Alice Walker, in full Alice Mal senior Walker, (born February 9, 1944, Eatonton, Georgia, U.S.), American writer whose novels, short stories, and poems are noted for their insightful treatment of African American culture. Her novels, most notably The Color Purple (1982), focus particularly on women.
Alice Mal senior Walker was born in Eatonton, Georgia, a rural farming town, to Willie Lee Walker and Minnie Tallulah Grant. Both of Walker's parents were sharecroppers, though her mother also worked as a seamstress to earn extra money. Walker, the youngest of eight children, was first enrolled in school when she was just four years old at East Putnam Consolidated.
When eight, Walker sustained an injury to her right eye after one of her brothers fired a BB gun. Since her family did not have access to a car, Walker could not receive immediate medical attention, causing her to become permanently blind in that eye. It was after the injury to her eye that Walker began to take up reading and writing. The scar tissue was removed when Walker was 14, but a mark still remains. It is described in her essay "Beauty: When the Other Dancer is the Self.
Walker wrote the poems that would culminate in her first book of poetry, entitled Once, while she was a student in East Africa and during her senior year at Sarah Lawrence College. Walker would slip her poetry under the office door of her professor and mentor, Muriel Rukeyser, when she was a student at Sarah Lawrence. Rukeyser then showed the poems to her agent. Once was published four years later by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
In 1973, before becoming editor of Ms. Magazine, Walker and literary scholar Charlotte D. Hunt discovered an unmarked grave they believed to be that of Zora Neale Hurston in Ft. Pierce, Florida. Walker had it marked with a gray marker stating ZORA NEALE HURSTON / A GENIUS OF THE SOUTH / NOVELIST FOLKLORIST / ANTHROPOLOGIST / 1901–1960. The line "a genius of the south" is from Jean Toomer's poem Georgia Dusk, which appears in his book Cane. Hurston was actually born in 1891, not 1901.