Alice Walker was born in Eatonton, Georgia (which is halfway between Atlanta and Augusta, I would know because that's my home state! ) on February 9, 1944. She was born to Willie Lee and Minnie Tallulah Grant Walker; they were sharecroppers, which was not uncommon at the time. The youngest of the eight children she spent most of her time with her five older brothers. Walker spent most of her life in poverty and she felt lonely. On top of the daily stresses that Walker dealt with her brothers were very cruel to her, while playing one of her brothers shot her eye out with a BB gun.
After this occurrence, Walker became secluded, and dreamed of suicide. Her only hide away was reading and writing poetry. In 1961, Walker graduated from high school as her class valedictorian and prom queen. She also won a disability scholarship from the state of Georgia to Spellman College in Atlanta. Her community raised seventy-five dollars to send her off to school with. Her mother gave her three gifts that were very important to her.
A sewing machine so that she could be self sufficient, a suit case that gave her access to the world, and a typewriter to record her own life and her mother's also. In 1963, Walker was either dismissed from Spellman for her active stance in civil rights protests. She then won a scholarship to Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. Walker was one of the very few Blacks offers a scholarship to this school. Her experiences there allowed her to distance herself from the South and to see the world as a more global village. In 1964, Walker traveled to Uganda, Africa as an exchange student.
Upon her return to the United States, she found out that she was pregnant. She opted to have an abortion mostly in order to avoid disappointing her parents. During this time she wrote volumes of poetry to cope. In 1965, Alice Walker received her B. A. from Sarah Lawrence College.
She wrote a short story, "To Hell With Dying,' based on her experience with the abortion. Her mentor Muriel Ruykeser sent the story to a publisher and to Langston Hughes. Her story was published and she received a handwritten note of encouragement from Langston Hughes. Walker then returned to Georgia to work for voter registration and welfare rights. She did most of her work door to door in impoverished areas of Georgia. She began to observe the impact of poverty on the relationships between black men and women and their cruelty to each other.
There she met Melvyn Rosen man Leventhal, a Jewish civil rights lawyer. He encouraged her writing and she moved back to New York with him. She had an essay, "The Civil Rights Movement: What Good Was It,' published. The essay won first place in the American Scholar magazine annual essay contest. On March 17, 1967, Alice married Mervyn and they returned to Mississippi. In 1968, She began teaching at Jackson State University and published her first volume of poetry Once.
In 1969, she completed her first novel, The Third Life of Grange Copeland, three days before the birth of her daughter Rebecca. The novel was published in 1970. In 1971, Walker accepted a writer-in-residence position at Tougaloo College and received a fellowship from Radcliffe. She began teaching at Wellesley one year later, where she began one of the first women's studies courses in the nation.
In 1973 a collection of short stories, In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women. Her second volume of poetry, Revolutionary Petunias and Other Poems, was published. In Love and Trouble won numerous awards. She became and editor for Ms.
magazine, where she worked on her writing daily. In 1976, her second novel, Meridian, was published. She also divorced Leventhal that year. She accepted a Guggenheim Fellowship and moved to San Francisco, where she still lives.