Alice Walker

1944 –

Poet, essayist, and novelist Alice Walker was born February 9, 1944, in Eatonton, Georgia, the eighth and last child of sharecroppers Willie Lee and Minnie Lou Grant Walker. She attended Spelman College and received a BA from Sarah Lawrence College.

Walker’s books of poetry include Hard Times Require Furious Dancing (New World Library, 2010); A Poem Traveled Down My Arm: Poems And Drawings (Random House, 2003); Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth (Random House, 2003); Her Blue Body Everything We Know: Earthling Poems, 1965–1990 Complete (Harcourt, 1991); Horses Make the Landscape More Beautiful (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984); Goodnight, Willie Lee, I’ll See You in the Morning (Dial Press, 1979); Revolutionary Petunias and Other Poems (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973); and Once: Poems (Harcourt, Brace & World, 1968).

Walker is also a well-known fiction writer. Among her novels and short story collections are Possessing the Secret of Joy: A Novel (New Press, 2008); The Way Forward is with a Broken Heart (Random House, 2000); By the Light of My Father’s Smile (Random House, 1998); Possessing the Secret of Joy (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992); The Temple of My Familiar (Penguin Books, 1989); To Hell With Dying (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988); The Color Purple (Harcourt, 1982), which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the American Book Award; and You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1981).

Walker’s collections of essays include Dreads: Sacred Rites of the Natural Hair Revolution (Artisan, 1999), a collaboration with Francesco Mastalia and Alfonse Pagano); Anything We Love Can Be Saved: A Writer’s Activism (Random House, 1997); The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult (Scribner, 1995); Living by the Word: Selected Writings, 1973–87 (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988); and In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens: Womanist Prose (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983). She has also written a memoir, The Chicken Chronicles (The New Press, 2011). Her books have been translated into more than two dozen languages.

Walker has won numerous awards and honors, including the Lillian Smith Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rosenthal Award from the National Institute of Arts & Letters, a fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute, a Merrill Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Walker lives in Mendocino, California.