Alice Walker was born in Eatonton, Georgia and as well as being African-American, her family has Cherokee, Scottish and Irish lineage. After high school, Walker attended Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia and graduated in 1965 from Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, New York. During her junior year, she spent a summer as an exchange student in Uganda.
She was married to activist Mel Leventhal from 1967 to 1976, the couple had one daughter, Rebecca Walker (also a prominent activist and writer).
Walker’s writings include novels, stories, essays and poems.
Topically, they focus on the struggles of African Americans, particularly women, and they witness against societies that are racist, sexist and violent. Her writings also focus on the role of women of colour in culture and history. Walker is a respected figure in the liberal political community for her support of unconventional and unpopular views as a matter of principle. She is an open bisexual, and sympathetic of people of all sexualities, ethnicities, and races. Her first book of poetry was written while she was still a senior at Sarah Lawrence. She took a brief sabbatical from writing when she and Leventhal lived in Mississippi and worked in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
Walker resumed her writing career when she joined Ms Magazine. An article she published in 1975 was largely responsible for the renewal of interest in the work of Zora Neale Hurston. In 1973, Walker and fellow Hurston scholar Charlotte D. Hunt discovered Hurston’s unmarked grave in Ft. Pierce, FL. Both women paid for a modest headstone for the gravesite.
In addition to her collected short stories and poetry, Walker’s first work of fiction, The Third Life of Grange Copeland, was published in 1970.In 1976, Walker’s second novel, “Meridian”, was published. The novel dealt with activist workers in the South during the civil rights movement, and closely paralleled some of Walker’s own experiences
In 1982, Walker would publish what has become her best-known work, the novel “The Color Purple”. The story of a young black woman fighting her way through not only racist white culture but patriarchal black culture was a resounding commercial success, and the immediacy of the characters and the story struck a nerve in readers, regardless of race, age, or gender. The book became a best seller and was subsequently made into a 1985 movie as well as a 2005 Broadway musical play.