Alice Walker was born on February 9, 1944, in Eatonton, Georgia, the eighth and last child of Willie Lee and Minnie Lou Grant Walker, who were sharecroppers. When Alice Walker was eight years old, she lost sight of one eye when one of her older brothers shot her with a BB gun by accident. In high school, Alice Walker was valedictorian of her class, and that achievement, coupled with a “rehabilitation scholarship” made it possible for her to go to Spelman, a college for black women in Atlanta, Georgia. After spending two years at Spelman, she transferred to Sarah Lawrence College in New York, and during her junior year traveled to Africa as an exchange student. She received her bachelor of arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College in 1965.
After finishing college, Walker lived for a short time in New York, then from the mid 1960s to the mid 1970s, she lived in Tougaloo, Mississippi, during which time she had a daughter, Rebecca, in 1969. Alice Walker was active in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s, and in the 1990’s she is still an involved activist. She has spoken for the women’s movement, the anti-apartheid movement, for the anti-nuclear movement, and against female genital mutilation. Alice Walker started her own publishing company, Wild Trees Press, in 1984. She currently resides in Northern California with her dog, Marley.
She received the Pulitzer Prize in 1983 for The Color Purple.
Among her numerous awards and honors 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, a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship, a Merrill Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Front Page Award for Best Magazine Criticism from the Newswoman’s Club of New York. She also has received the Townsend Prize and a Lyndhurst Prize.