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PHOTO ESSAY

Twentieth Century Literary Giants

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Alice Walker

Courtesy of Austin/Thompson Collection, by permission of University of Pennsylvania, Schoenberg Center.

As a prolific poet, novelist, essayist, biographer, short fiction writer, feminist, publisher, and educator, Alice Walker exemplifies the surge in productivity among black women writers that that began toward the end of the twentieth century and continues today. Walker's most famous work, The Color Purple (1982) exemplifies her desire to challenge her readers' perspectives and morals, examining difficult themes such as "black-on-black" oppression, incest, bisexual and lesbian love, and abusive male-dominated relationships. The Color Purple won both the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award in 1983, was adapted as a major motion picture directed by Steven Spielberg in 1985, and produced as a Broadway musical in 2005. Walker has gone on to write numerous works that articulate her quest for spiritual wholeness and recognition of individuals, especially women, who have been silenced and denied their freedom.

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