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Alice M(alsenior) Walker was born on February 9, 1944 in Eatonton, Georgia, the eighth and youngest child of Minnie Tallulah Grant Walker and Willie Lee Walker. Her father's great-great-great grandmother Mary Poole was a slave forced to walk from Virginia to Georgia with a baby in each arm. Her mother's grandmother Talluhah was mostly Cherokee Indian.
At the age of 9, Alice was blinded in her right eye by her brother's BB gun pellet which left scar tissue. When she was 14 years old her brother Bill paid for eye surjery in Boston, but her vision never returned.
Upon graduating high school in 1961 (she was her school's valedictorian and prom queen that year), Alice M. Walker won a scholarship for disabled to Spelman College (for women). Before leaving, her mother gave her three special gifts: a sewing machine for self-sufficiency, a suitcase for independence and a typewriter for creativity. She attended Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga., for two years and was thoroughly involved in the civil rights movement.
Two years later, she won a scholarship to Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y. where she learned from the writers Muriel Ruykeyser and Jane Cooper. After traveling to Finland (while attending Spelman) and to Africa (while at Sarah Lawrence), Walker gained a love of travel. But soon after returning to school she learned she was pregnant. At a time when abortion was illegal and dangerous, she was fortunate to have a safe one. During her recovery from the depression and anxiety she had suffered, Alice wrote a short story aptly titled "To Hell With Dying." It was published and she received a hand-written note of encouragement from Langston Hughes.
After graduating from Sara Lawrence (B.A., 1965) college she moved to Mississippi and became involved with the civil-rights movement. In 1967, Walker married Mel Leventhal, a white activist civil rights lawyer, and one year later Walker gave birth to their daughter Rebecca. It was not until she began teaching that her writing carrer began to take off. She started at Jackson State (when appeared her first book of poetry, Once in1968), then Tougaloo, and finally at Wellesley College. Ms. Walker published her first novel, The Third Life of Grange Copeland in 1970. She was also a fellow at the Ratcliffe Institute from 1971 to 1973. In 1973 she published In Love & Trouble: Stories of Black Women and Revolutionary Petunias & Other Poems before moving to New York to work for Ms. Magazine (as an editor) and completed Meridian (1976).
3. Alice took a very active role in the making of "The Color Purple" into a motion picture, produced by Quincy Jones and directed by Steven Spielberg. She did not, however, write the screenplay. She was able to voice opinions on various parts of the story and casting. She was both delighted and disappointed in the screen rendering of her story. Her beloved characters were not her own on screen, but she did admire the powerful performances by the actors.
After receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship and leaving Ms. Magazine, Walker moved to a country home in Mendocino, California. There she published her second book of short stories, You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down (_) and she wrote perhaps her most popular novel, The Color Purple (1982; film, 1985) which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1983. After releasing a collection of essays, In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens (1983), and a collections of poetry, Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful (1984) and Good Night, Willie Lee, I'll See You in the Morning (1984), she cofounded Wild Trees Press (1984-88). Second book of essays, Living By the Word (1988) Her fouth novel The Temple of My Familiar (1989) Alice next published another volume of poetry, Her Blue Body Everything We Know: Earthling Poems. In 1991 she published a children's story, Finding the Green Stone. Alice's fifth novel Possessing the Secret of Joy (1992) which chronicles the psychic trauma of one woman's life after forced genital mutilation. Her interest in ending genital mutilation took her on a journey to Africa with filmmaker Pratibha Parmar to make a documentary called Warrior Marks: Female Genital Mutilation and the Sexual Blinding of Women. She also wrote a companion book Warrior Marks chronicling her experiences.
Alice published several essay collections, The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult (1996) and Anything We Love Can Be Saved: A Writer's Activism (1997). Most recently, she published By the Light of My Father's Smile (1998).
Donna Haisty Winchell, Alice Walker (1992)
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and K.A. Appiah (eds.), Alice Walker: Critical Perspectives Past and Present (1993).
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|Like everyone in their friendly rural neighborhood, Katie and her brother Johnny each possess an iridescent green stone, carried in a pocket or used for games. When Johnny loses his, he accuses Katie of stealing it; later, he tries to steal hers, but to no avail--the stone promptly loses its luster. Though others generously join his search, Johnny eventually realizes that the quest is his alone; and by the time he regains his stone, it's evident that it embodies his unique talents and integrity, and that any stone may lose its power as a result of its owner's failings, from name-calling to more serious transgressions. The focus is on several messages... but, still, this holds attention-- especially with Deeter's colorful, large-size paintings, glowing with wholesome good health."|