Alice Walker was born on the 9th of February, in 1944 in Eatonton, Georgia, U.S. She was a bright daughter of Willie Lee Walker, a sharecropper, while her mother, Minnie Tallulah, was a seamstress. She enjoyed the colors of life during her early years. However, aged eight, a fatal incident changed the happy course of her life when her brother accidentally shot her in the eye that caused partial blindness. That incident stole the true spirit of her childhood, throwing her into throes of darkness. This traumatic incident transformed a self-confident child into a solemn and shy girl. Deprived of normal childhood activities, Alice turned toward reading and writing to overcome her disability and depression.
Alice Walker started her education from segregated schools where her teachers helped her understand the world and its biting approach toward racism. Although she was brought up in a poor environment, the support of her community enabled her to choose her identity. She won a scholarship and pursued her studies at Spelman College in Georgia. She studied there for two years and later moved to Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, where she studied, literature, history, and Latin poetry. She graduated in 1965 and worked as a lecturer, teacher, and social worker.
Personal Life and Tragedy
While rendering her service as a social worker in Jackson, Mississippi, she met Melvyn Leventhal, a civil rights lawyer. They developed a cordial relationship and the couple tied a knot in 1967. They had one child and sadly parted ways in 1976.
Alice’s services for literature earned her a lot of respect. She received many awards and honors. She earned MacDowell Colony Fellowships and MacDowell Colony Fellowships in 1967. Later, in 1982, she received Candace Award, and in 1983, while her work, The Color Purple was awarded Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Her other notable achievements included the National Book Award for Fiction, Lillian Smith Award, Rosenthal Award from the National Institute of Arts & Letters, and Domestic Human Rights Award from Global Exchange. Moreover, she also received an honorary degree from the California Institute of the Arts in 1995.
Some Important Facts of her Life
- She was an active participant in the Civil Rights Movement, fighting for equality for all African Americans.
- In 1997, she was named “Humanist of the Year” by the American Humanist Association.
- According to Renee Tawa in the Los Angeles Times, she is still one of the bestselling-writers of literary fiction.
Alice Walker started expressing her thoughts at a young age and mesmerized the generations with her wonderful ideas. She became a published writer in 1965 with the publication of her first collection of poetry, Once: Poems. This initial publication was received warmly by the audience and eventually grounded ways for her further efforts. She came up with the publication of her first novel, The Third Life of Grange Copeland, in 1970, which helped her to win the National Endowment for the Arts. Later, in 1973 her collection of short stories, Revolutionary Petunias, a collection of poetry and In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women spell bounded her readers. Encouraged, she came up with her second novel, Meridian, in 1976 that narrates the story of a woman striving for civil rights. Although she received numerous awards for her literary pieces, t her third novel, The Color Purple, proved to be a big hit. Right after its publication in 1982, the critics sensed that she has produced something extraordinary.
Alice Walker’s intense love for writing and poetry, along with her passion to establish equality for African-Americans, especially black women, provided her literary efforts a unique identity. Her indifferent writing approach allows her creativity to shine in full swing. However, she ingeniously weaves such themes in her pieces that carry a lot of potentials, demonstrating the quality to speak about the acute struggle of African Americans. It is through her writings, Alice recognized her struggle and also appreciated the tireless efforts of her race. Marked with the use of certain literary devices, her poetic pieces show rhythm and feel to the words. On the contrary, in her essays, her writing style is ethereal and elegant. She incorporated elements like repetition, metaphor, imagery, and symbolism in her works to stand different from the other authors.
Some Important Works of Alice Walker
- Best Poetry Collection: Some of her best poetry collection includes Revolutionary Petunias and Other Poems, Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful, A Poem Traveled Down My Arm: Poems And Drawings, Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart, and Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth.
- Other Works: Besides writing poetry, she tried her hands on other genres of literature too. Some of them include The Third Life of Grange Copeland, In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women, The Temple of My Familiar, By the Light of My Father’s Smile, and Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart.
Alice Walker’s Impact on Future Literature
Alice Walker’s opinions about the African-American struggle and activism have won laurels around the globe. Her distinctive writing approach and unique way of expression have actually made her stand among the best writers of the world. It is because her thoughtful ideas have influenced many great writers and critics even in this postmodern and post-digital era. That is why her style is often an example for young writers to follow.
- “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.” (The Color Purple)
- “I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering about the big things and asking about the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know anything more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, the more I love.” (The Color Purple)
- “I’m mad about the waste that happens when people who love each other can’t even bring themselves to talk.” (The Temple of My Familiar)