Alice Walker papers
Born in Eatonton, Georgia, Alice Walker attended Spelman College on a full scholarship before transferring to Sarah Lawrence College, graduating in 1965. Her first book of poetry was written while she was still a senior in college, and in 1982 she published what would become her best known work, The Color Purple. In 1983 the novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, making Walker the first black woman to win in fiction. The Color Purple also won the National Book Award that year.
Walker’s works focus on the role of women of color in culture and history, and she is well-known for her political activism. Her papers were acquired by Emory in 2007.
Comprising 122 boxes, the collection is more than just a snapshot of a prolific career. It also captures a sense of the strong connection between her professional and personal life. "[Walker's] papers give you a sense of the process for creating fiction, and for creating poetry," said Rudolph Byrd, Emory professor and friend of Alice Walker. "Everything that she's ever written, she has a record of. It's very exciting."
In addition to drafts of writings such as The Color Purple, unpublished poems and writings, and correspondence with editors, the collection includes extensive correspondence with family members, friends and colleagues, an early treatment of the film script for The Color Purple that was never used, syllabi from courses she taught, and fan mail. The collection also contains some hidden treasures including a scrapbook of poetry compiled when Walker was just 15 entitled "Poems of a Childhood Poetess."
A more detailed description of the Alice Walker papers (MSS1061) is available in the EmoryFindingAids database.