On the occasion of her induction, Alice Walker graciously contributed the following biographical remarks:
It is Alice Walker's belief that in every generation each family on Earth gives birth to its own "healers." She believes this has been her role in her own family. Walker listened intently to the whispered memories, dreams, joys, complaints, and sufferings that swirled around her as a child. As an adult, Walker functioned as a healer to her family, employing a medicine bundle that contained aspects of their collective stories, poems, and songs suitable for healing both the family and the community at large. She believes this role is an ancient, honorable tradition that all families once understood, but has long since passed from our collective memory.
Alice Walker was born on February 9, 1944 in Eatonton, Georgia, the eighth child of African American sharecroppers. In addition to being farmers, her family also tended large herds of cows. It was from her observations of these subtle animals that Walker learned about patience, integrity, and stillness. Much loved and supported by her teachers and community, she graduated the valedictorian of her high school class. Walker began her involvement with the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta, where she attended Spelman College for two years. In 1966, Walker graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. Her first book of poetry, Once, was published in 1968 while she was still a student.
By the time Once was published, Walker was living in Mississippi and working on the completion of her first novel, The Third Life of Grange Copeland. Five more novels followed: Meridian, The Color Purple (which won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award), The Temple of My Familiar, Possessing the Secret of Joy, and By the Light of My Father's Smile. She is also the author of three short story collections and three volumes of collected essays, including Warrior Marks: Female Genital Mutilation and the Sexual Blinding of Women, which details Walker's decade-long struggle against the practice of ritual female genital mutilation.
Walker worked many day jobs (as a salesperson, waitress, and file clerk), before she began teaching at colleges and universities. She was also a contributing and fiction editor for Ms. magazine. A longtime advocate for social change, Walker has received numerous prizes and awards for her contributions. Her work has been widely translated into many languages, and sales of her books total in the millions.
Alice Walker lives in Northern California.
Updated material on Alice Walker's recent writings, from the writer's official website biography:
Recent works by Walker include:
- Six additional volumes of poetry: Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth (2003); A Poem Traveled Down My Arm: Poems And Drawings (2003); Collected Poems (2005); Hard Times Require Furious Dancing: New Poems (2010); The World Will Follow Joy: Turning Madness into Flowers (2013); and a bilingual English/Spanish collection, Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart (2018).
- A 2004 novel, Now Is the Time To Open Your Heart, about a couple facing separation who decide to embark on parallel spiritual and physical journeys; and a 1994 collection of Walker's short fiction, Complete Stories.
- Walker's nonfiction books in addition to Warrior Marks include: In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose (1983); Living by the Word (1988); The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult (1996); Anything We Love Can Be Saved: A Writer's Activism (1997); Go Girl!: The Black Woman's Book of Travel and Adventure (1997); Pema Chodron and Alice Walker in Conversation (1999); Sent By Earth: A Message from the Grandmother Spirit After the Bombing of the World Trade Center and Pentagon (2001); We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: Inner Light in a Time of Darkness (2006); Overcoming Speechlessness: A Poet Encounters the Horror in Rwanda, Eastern Congo and Palestine/Israel (2010); The Chicken Chronicles: Sitting With the Angels Who Have Returned With My Memories (2011); and The Cushion in the Road: Meditation and Wandering as the Whole World Awakens to be in Harm's Way (2013)
Alice Walker writes frequently for various publications, and regularly publishes essays and poetry at www.alicewalkersgarden.com.
A list of principal works* by Alice Walker found in the Hall of Fame collections of the Hargrett Library:
Once: Poems. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1968.
The Third Life of Grange Copeland. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1970.
In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1973.
Revolutionary Petunias & Other Poems.New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1973.
Langston Hughes, American Poet. New York: Crowell, 1974.
Meridian . New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1976.
Good Night, Willie Lee, I'll See You In The Morning: Poems. New York: Dial Press, 1979.
You Can't Keep A Good Woman Down: Stories. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1981.
The Color Purple. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982.
In Search Of Our Mother's Gardens: Womanist Prose. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983.
Horses Make A Landscape Look More Beautiful: Poems. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984.
Living By The Word: Selected Writings. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988.
To Hell With Dying. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988.
The Temple Of My Familiar. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989. Womanist. Stillwater: Nancy Leavitt, 1989.
Her Blue Body Everything We Know: Earthling Poems, 1965-1990. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991.
Finding The Green Stone. San Diego, CA: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1991.
Possessing The Secret Of Joy. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992.
Warrior Marks: Female Genital Mutilation And The Sexual Binding Of Women. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1993.
The Complete Stories. London: The Women’s Press, 1994.
The Same River Twice: Honoring The Difficult: A Mediation On Life, Spirit, Art, And The Making Of The Film, The Color Purple, Ten Years Later. New York: Scribner, 1996.
Anything We Love Can Be Saved. New York: Random House, 1997.
By The Light Of My Father's Smile. New York: Random House, 1998.
The Way Forward Is With A Broken Heart. New York: Random House, 2000.
Sent by Earth: A Message from the Grandmother Spirit after the Attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. New York: Seven Stories, 2001.
A Poem Traveled Down My Arm: Poems and Drawings. New York: Random House, 2003.
Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart: A Novel. New York: Random House, 2004.
There Is a Flower at the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me. New York: Harper Collins, 2006.
We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: Inner Light in a Time of Darkness: Meditations. New York: New Press, 2006.
Why War Is Never a Good Idea. New York: HarperCollins, 2007.
Overcoming Speechlessness. New York: Seven Stories Press, c2010.
Hard Times Require Furious Dancing: New Poems. New York: New World Library, c2010.
The Chicken Chronicles: Sitting with the Angels Who Have Returned with My Memories: Glorious, Rufus, Gertrude Stein, Splendor, Hortensia, Agnes of God, the Gladyses, & Babe: a Memoir. New York: The New Press, 2011.
The Cushion in the Road: Meditation and Wandering as the Whole World Awakens to Being in Harm's Way. New York: The New Press, 2013.
Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart: Poems. New York: 37 Ink/Atria, 2018.
*The Hargrett Library also holds many variant printings, foreign editions, uncorrected proofs, and other books by and about Ms. Walker. For a full listing, consult the Libraries’ online catalog (GIL).
The Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library of Emory University (Atlanta) holds Alice Walker’s literary manuscripts, personal papers, and official and personal correspondence.