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Alice Walker | Biography

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Born to tenant farmer parents in rural Georgia on February 9, 1944, Alice Walker rose from her humble roots to become a celebrated author. In 1982 Walker became the first African American woman to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for fiction for her novel The Color Purple.

At age eight, while playing with her brothers, Walker's right eye was blinded by a stray BB pellet. Insecurity over the white scars in her impaired eye and peers' ridiculing comments led Walker to adopt a solitary life. Reading, writing poetry, and learning filled her world. She was honored as the valedictorian of her high school's graduating class in 1961, the same year she published her first short story.

Although The Color Purple's setting covers approximately the three decades before the author was born, the novel shares similar attitudes, societal standards, and gender roles to those Walker experienced while coming of age in the segregated South.

Since her first short story was published, Walker has released numerous novels, poetry collections, nonfiction books, short stories, and essays. Her novel The Temple of My Familiar returns to the themes of racism and sexism she tackled in The Color Purple, and it also includes flashbacks to Celie and Shug. Tashi and Adam, characters in The Color Purple, are the main characters in Possessing the Secret of Joy, a novel that focuses on the physical and psychological damage caused by female circumcision. Her activism began when she joined the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Walker's writing and her life reflect her passion to raise awareness regarding abusive female relationships and traditions, women's rights, racism, and injustice around the world.

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