Alice Walker Alice Walker, one of the best-known and most highly respected writers in the US, was born in Eatonton, Georgia, the eighth and last child of Willie Lee and Minnie Lou Grant Walker. Her parents were sharecroppers, and money was not always available as needed. At the tender age of eight, Walker lost sight of one eye when one of her older brothers shot her with a BB gun by accident. This left her in somewhat a depression, and she secluded herself from the other children.
Walker felt like she was no longer a little girl because of the traumatic experience she had undergone, and she was filled with shame because she thought she was unpleasant to look at. During this seclusion from other kids her age, Walker began to write poems. Hence, her career as a writer began. Despite this tragedy in her life and the feelings of inferiority, Walker became valedictorian of her class in high school and received a "rehabilitation scholarship" to attend Spelman. Spelman College was a college for black women in Atlanta, Georgia, not far from Walker's home.
While at Spelman, Walker became involved in civil rights demonstrations where she spoke out against the silence of the institution's curriculum when it came to African-American culture and history. Her involvement in such activities led to her dismissal from the college. So she transferred to Sarah Lawrence College in New York and had the opportunity to travel to Africa as an exchange student. Upon her return, she received her bachelor of arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College in 1965. She received a writing fellowship and was planning to spend it in Senegal, West Africa, but her plans changed when she decided to take a job as a case worker in the New York City welfare department.
Walker later moved to Tougaloo, Mississippi, during which time she became more involved in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960 s. She used her own and others' experiences as material for her searing examinations of politics. She also volunteered her time working at the voter registration drive in Mississippi. Walker often admits that her decision not to take the writing fellowship was based on the realization that she could never live happily in Africa or anywhere else until she could live freely in Mississippi. Walker found the love of her life in 1967, a white activist civil rights lawyer name Mel Leventhal, and they were married in 1967. A year later she gave birth to their daughter, Rebecca.
It was not until she began teaching that her writing career really took off. She began teaching at Jackson State, then Tougaloo, and finally at Wellesley College. She was also a fellow at the Ratcliffe Institute from 1971 to 1973, and it was in her last year there that she published her first collection of stories, In Love and Trouble. Walker is still very much involved in the Civil Rights Movement and has spoken for the women's movement, the anti-apartheid movement, for the anti-nuclear movement, and against female genital mutilation. She also started her own publishing company, Wild Trees Press, in 1984. Walker refuses to ignore the tangle of personal and political themes and has produced five novels, two collections of short stories, numerous volumes of poetry, and two books of essays that address such issues.
She has won fame and recognition in many countries but has not lost her sense of rooted ness in the South. She also recognizes her mother as showing her the life of "an artist entailed." In her famous essay, "In Search of Our Mothers' Garden" she talks about watching her mother at the end of a day of back-breaking physical labor on someone else's farm return home, only to walk the long distance to their well to get water for her garden planted each year at their doorstep. She gives her mother full credit as showing her what it means to be an artist of dedication and showing a tough conviction that life without beauty is unbearable. Walker was also influenced by a number of other prominent authors, including Flannery O'Connor and Zora Neale Hurston.
She received the Pulitzer Prize in 1983 for The Color Purple, perhaps her most famous work. Among her other numerous awards are the Lillian Smith Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rosenthal Award from the National Institute of Arts & Letters, a nomination for the National Book Award, and the Townsend Prize. Among the many themes that Walker has addressed in her works include: incest, lesbian love, sibling devotion, sexual and racial realities, and the unavoidable connections between family and society. She is probably best known for her works on racial inequality, and Walker comments on this by saying: "Race is just the first question on a long list. This is hard for just about everybody to accept; we " ve been trying to answer it for so long." Walker currently resides in Northern California with her dog, Marley, named after the great singer Bob Marley.