Born in Eatonton, Georgia, on February 9, 1944, Alice Walker partly spent her life working as a teacher, lecturer and social worker but is primarily known as a writer today. Daughter to a maid and sister to 7 siblings, Walker spent her childhood with little money. She suffered a serious eye injury at the age of 8 by being shot by a BB pellet while playing with her brothers. A white scar around her right eye made her really self-conscious and led her to isolate herself from much of the world. However, she engaged herself in reading and writing poetry that soon became her source of enjoyment.
Till high school, Walker studied in a segregated institution and became the valedictorian of her batch. She then went to Spelman College in Atlanta having received a scholarship. Later, she transferred to New York where she studied at the Sarah Lawrence College. One of her years was spent in Africa as part of an exchange programme. 1965 marked an important year in her life as she graduated from college and also published her first short story.
Post-graduation, Walker worked as a teacher, lecturer and social worker. She fought for equal rights being given to African American and used the Civil Rights Movement as a medium to achieve this goal. In 1968, her first collection of poetry, Once, got published.
However, today she is primarily known for writing novels and her first work by the name of Third Life of Grange Copeland got published in 1970. She experimented with different types of writing ranging from short stories including In Love and Trouble to children’s books including Langston Hughes: American Poet. She also played a pivotal role in the Black Feminist Movement going on at the time. In 1983, she coined the term womanism to mean Black feminism.
She got married in 1967 to Melvyn Leventhal who was a lawyer and an activist. They had one daughter, Rebecca (born 1969). However, the couple got divorced in 1976.
She rose to fame in 1982 with her third novel, The Color Purple, which highlighted the struggles of an African