The Color Purple

Walker, Alice

Alice Walker, 1944–, African-American novelist and poet, b. Eatonon, Ga. The daughter of sharecroppers, she studied at Spelman College (1961–63) and Sarah Lawrence College (B.A., 1965). She brings her travel experience in Africa and memories of the American civil-rights movement to an examination of the experience of African Americans, mainly in the South, and of Africans. A self-described "womanist," she has maintained a strong focus on feminist issues within African-American culture. Walker won wide recognition with her novel The Color Purple (1982; Pulitzer Prize; film, 1985), a dark but sometimes joyous saga of a poor black Southern woman's painful journey toward self-realization. Among her other novels are Meridian (1976), The Temple of My Familiar (1989), By the Light of My Father's Smile (1994), and Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart (2004). Her short-story collections include You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down (1981) and the partially autobiographical The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart (2000). She has also written poetry, such as Revolutionary Petunias and Other Poems (1973), Her Blue Body Everything We Know: Earthling Poems 1965–1990 (1991), and Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth (2003). Many of her essays are collected in Living by the Word (1988) and Anything We Love Can Be Saved (1997).

See biography by E. C. White (2004); studies by D. W. Winchell (1992), H. L. Gates et al., ed. (1993), and Ikenna Dieke, ed. (1999).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Alice Walker's The Color Purple
Harold Bloom.
Chelsea House, 2000
Librarian’s tip: This is a book of literary criticism
Critical Essays on Alice Walker
Ikenna Dieke.
Greenwood Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Creating Generations: The Relationship between Celie and Shug in Alice Walker's The Color Purple" and Chap. 9 "The Color Purple: An Existential Novel"
Race and Domesticity in 'The Color Purple.'
Selzer, Linda.
African American Review, Vol. 29, No. 1, Spring 1995
Feminism and Cultural Studies
Morag Shiach.
Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 14 "The Color Purple: Black Women as Cultural Readers"
Literature and Film as Modern Mythology
William K. Ferrell.
Praeger, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "A Return to Matriarchy: The Color Purple by Alice Walker"
Reconstructing the Family in Contemporary American Fiction
Desmond F. McCarthy.
Peter Lang Publishing, 1998
Temporarily FREE! Women in Literature: Reading through the Lens of Gender
Jerilyn Fisher; Ellen S. Silber.
Greenwood Press, 2003
Librarian’s tip: "Paths to Liberation in Alice Walker's The Color Purple (1982)" begins on p. 75
Contemporary Fiction
Jago Morrison.
Routledge, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of The Color Purple begins on p. 211
Alice Walker
Harold Bloom.
Chelsea House, 1989
Librarian’s tip: "The Color Purple: Revisions and Redefinitions" begins on p. 67
"Preachin' the Blues": Bessie Smith's Secular Religion and Alice Walker's 'The Color Purple.'
Marvin, Thomas F.
African American Review, Vol. 28, No. 3, Fall 1994
African Settings in Contemporary American Novels
Dave Kuhne.
Greenwood, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Part II "The World according to Walker: The Color Purple, The Temple of My Familiar, and Possessing the Secret of Joy"
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