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Written by Alice Walker and published in 1982, The Color Purple is the story of two sisters living separate lives in the early 1900s: one a 14-year-old child wife living in the South and one a missionary in Africa. Although the book is set in the early 1900s during racial discrimination, the Great Depression, and gender inequality, it wasn’t written until the early 1980s. While The Color Purple was being written, Ronald Reagan was beginning his presidency, the Cold War had lasted for over 30 years, and the television and movie industries were evolving. The cable network, MTV, made its debut in August of 1981, which created stars like Michael Jackson and fashion icons like Madonna. In the 1980s, movies that are still popular today were released into movie theatres like “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty in Pink.” The Color Purple was written in a time known for its materialism and consumerism.
African American novelist and poet, Alice Walker, was born in Eatonton, Georgia on February 9, 1944. She was the youngest daughter of poor sharecroppers with seven siblings. She graduated her segregated high school as class valedictorian, attended Spelman College in Atlanta with the help of a scholarship, and later switched to Sarah Lawrence College in New York. Walker worked as social worker, teacher, lecturer, and was active in the Civil Rights Movement. Before divorcing ex-husband, Melvyn Leventhal in 1976, she had a daughter, Rebecca, that she would later publicly feud with. Including the publishing of her most famous work, The Color Purple, she also published By the Light of My Father’s smile in 1998 and There Is a Flower at the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me in 2006, among other collections and stories. Walker has received many honors and awards: the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, O. Henry Award, Mahmoud Darwish Literary Prize for Fiction, LennonOno Peace Award, and has been inducted into the California Hall of Fame. She was also the subject of acclaimed documentary, Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth.
After The Color Purple was published in 1982, it won, author, Alice Walker both the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award for Fiction in 1983. The book was also listed on the BBC’s The Big Read voting of the United Kingdom’s “best-loved novels” in 2003. It was later developed into both a movie and musical. The movie was directed by Steven Spielberg in 1985 and starred Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Danny Glover. Because of the periodical explicit content, including violence, the novel appeared on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000-2009 at number seventeen. Despite repeatedly being the aim of censors, The Color Purple, written by Alice Walker, is an honored and awarded novel.

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