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MAKERS Profile

Alice Walker

Pulitzer Prize Winning Author

More From Alice

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Alice Walker on living through poverty and racism; giving her ancestors a voice in The Color Purple; and the magic of art and life.

Alice's Biography

Three Words to Describe Herself: Thoughtful, solitary, and amazed

First Paying Job: Picking daffodils for 5 cents a bunch.

Most Meaningul Advice: “To be myself, and that was completely ample.”

Advice for Young Women: “Happiness is important… One of the sad realities is how people get locked into the dream or the job or the career or whatever it is and it’s not them at all. It’s not what the soul is trying to find.”

Growing up in the South prior to and during the Civil Rights Movement, had a major impact on the life and career of novelist, poet, and activist, Alice Walker. The eighth child of Georgia sharecroppers, Walker began writing, very privately, when she was eight years old. She went on to become valedictorian of her local school and to attend Spelman College and then Sarah Lawrence College on scholarships, graduating in 1965.
Penning her first book of poetry her senior year of college, Walker is a prolific writer of poetry, children’s books, essays, short stories, and novels, most notably 1983's The Color Purple for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction - the first African American woman to receive the award. The book also won the National Book Award, was made into Steven Spielberg’s 1985 Oscar-nominated film, and was adapted for the stage, opening on Broadway in 2005, and capturing a Tony Award for best leading actress in a musical in 2006.
Walker was active in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, and continues today to be an involved activist. She has spoken for the women's movement, the anti-apartheid movement, the anti-nuclear movement, and against female genital mutilation. Through her own publishing company, Wild Trees Press, and her work with Ms. magazine, Walker has introduced and championed the voices of numerous feminist and women of color authors. Her own work has been translated into more than two dozen languages, and her books have sold more than fifteen million copies.

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