Alice Walker

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• Alice Walker was born on February 9, 1944 in Eatonton, Georgia. She was born into a poor sharecropper family, and the last of eight children.
• At the age of 8 she was accidentally shot in the eye by her brother and was blinded on one eye until she the age of 14 when she got an operation and regained some of her sight.
• This experience made her very secluded and reserved. She thought a lot about suicide but found comfort in writing. She became an observer rather than a participator in everyday life.
• Alice Walker herself has said: “I believe it is from this period – from my solitary, lonely position, the position of an outcast – that I began really to se people and things, really to notice relationships and to learn to be patient enough to care about how they turned out...”
• She was one out of only six black students at the Sarah Lawrence College in New York where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1965.
• AW has had some problems of her own; she was very depressed after an abortion in senior year at college. She slept with a razor under her pillow for three nights as she wanted to commit suicide. Instead she turned to writing and in a week she wrote the story “To Hell with Dying”. She only stopped writing to eat and sleep.
• AW always turned to writing when she was depressed, in these periods she got the greatest inspiration to her stories.
• AW and her ex-husband Melvyn Leventhal were the first legally married interracial couple to live in the state of Missisippi (married in 1967, divorced in 1976). They had a daughter, Rebecca. She later remarried fellow editor Robert Allen.
• AW was active in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. She has spoken for the women’s movement, the anti-apartheid movement, for the anti-nuclear movement and against female genital mutilation.
• AW calls herself “a womanist “, her term for a black feminist. She is one of the female Afro-American writers founding the concept “New Black Renaissance” .

• AW’s work is deeply rooted in oral tradition; in the passing on of stories from generation to generation in the language of the people. To AW the language had a great importance. She uses the “Slave language”, which by others is seen as “not correct language”, but this is because of the effect she wants the reader to understand.

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