Log In

Alice Malsenior Walker Edit Profile

novelist , political activist , writer , poet

Alice Malsenior Walker is an American author and activist. She wrote the critically acclaimed novel The Color Purple (1982) for which she won the National Book Award.


Sarah Lawrence College.


Early Works

After college, Walker worked as a social worker, teacher and lecturer. She became active in the Civil Rights Movement, fighting for equality for all African Americans. Her experiences informed her first collection of poetry, Once, which was published in 1968. Better known now as a novelist, Walker showed her talents for storytelling in her debut work, Third Life of Grange Copeland (1970).

Walker continued to explore writing in all of its forms. In 1973, she published a set of short stories, In Love and Trouble; the poetry collection Revolutionary Petunias; and her first children's book,Langston Hughes: American Poet. She also emerged as a prominent voice in the black feminist movement.

The Color Purple

Walker's career as a writer took flight with the publication of her third novel, The Color Purple, in 1982. Set in the early 1900s, the novel explores the female African-American experience through the life and struggles of its narrator, Celie. Celie suffers terrible abuse at the hands of her father, and later, from her husband. The compelling work won Walker both the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction in 1983.

Three years later, Walker's story made it to the big screen: Steven Spielberg directed The Color Purple, which starred Whoopi Goldberg as Celie, as well as Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover.

Like the novel, the movie was a critical success, receiving 11 Academy Award nominations. Walker explored her own feelings about the film in her 1996 work, The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult. In 2005, The Color Purple became a Broadway musical.

Walker incorporated characters and their relations from The Color Purple into two of her other novels: The Temple of My Familiar(1989) and Possessing the Secret of Joy (1992), which earned great critical praise and caused some controversy for its exploration of the practice of female genital mutilation.

Recent Works

Walker has proved time and time again to be a versatile writer. In 2004, she published Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart. Two years later, in 2006, she published a collection of essays, We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: Light in a Time of Darkness, and the well-received picture book There Is a Flower at the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me.

Continuing her work as a political activist, Walker also wrote about her experiences with the group Women for Women International in 2010's Overcoming Speechlessness: A Poet Encounters the Horror in Rwanda, Eastern Congo and Palestine/Israel. She published another poetry collection, Hard Times Require Furious Dancing, that same year.

After more than four decades as a writer, Alice Walker shows no signs of slowing down. In 2012, she released The Chicken Chronicles; in this latest memoir, she ruminates on caring for her flock of chickens. Following the release of The Chicken Chronicles, she began working on The Cushion in the Road, a collection of mediations on a variety of subjects slated to be published in 2013.


  • novel

    • The Third Life of Grange Copeland

    • Meridian

    • The Color Purple

    • The Temple of My Familiar

    • Possessing the Secret of Joy

  • short stories

    • Everyday Use

  • Other Work

    • Once 1968, The Third Life of George Copeland 1970, In Love and Trouble 1973, Langston Hughes, American Poet 1973, Revolutionary Petunias 1974, Meridian 1976, I Love Myself When I am Laughing 1979, You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down 1981, Good Night Willi Lee, I’ll See You in the Morning 1979, The Colour Purple 1982, In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens 1983, Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful 1984, To Hell with Dying 1988, Living By the Word 1988, The Temple of My Familiar 1989.


  • Other Interests

    human Rights Activist


Married Melvyn R. Leventhal in 1967 (divorced in 1977).



Melvyn Roseman Leventhal

Jewish civil rights lawyer. They were married on March 17, 1967 in New York City. Later that year the couple relocated to Jackson, Mississippi, becoming "the first legally married inter-racial couple in Mississippi". They were harassed and threatened by whites, including the Ku Klux Klan. The couple had a daughter Rebecca in 1969. Walker and her husband divorced in 1976.

Rebecca Walker