Meet the First Black Woman to Win a Pulitzer Prize For a Fiction Novel

Alice Walker

Alice Walker was born on February 9, 1944, in Eatonton, Georgia. She was the first Black female writer to win a Pulitzer Prize for a work of fiction. She also won the American Book Award.

From an early age, Walker demonstrated great skills despite an accident that made her blind in one eye. At the age of 17, Walker received a scholarship to attend Spelman College in Atlanta, where she became interested in Russian literature and the burgeoning Civil Rights movement. Later, she was offered a scholarship to Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, New York, where she studied poetry. There she met Muriel Rukeyser, a famous poet and civil rights activist who would help her get her first collection of poems, Once, published in 1968.

Walker's writings are characterized by her inspirations from the Harlem Renaissance period of the early 20th century and also for the controversial issues that her writings addressed such as rape, violence, isolation, troubled relationships, bisexuality, multigenerational perspectives, sexism, and racism.

In 1982, Walker obtained great recognition for the publication of her novel The Color Purple, a powerful novel about two Black women's psych bonding in the face of male physical and psychological abuse. The novel's innovative form and the power of its focus on gender rather than racial conflict garnered its author a Pulitzer Prize in fiction. It ended up becoming a bestseller that in 1985 would see a film adaptation directed by Steven Spielberg. It was later developed into a Broadway musical in 2005.