[By Kenton Rambsy]
On last week, I focused on select novels in the “100 Novels Collection” to discuss how Wikipedia showcased the books to internet reading audiences. Extending my conversations about Wikipedia, this week I chose to focus on the novelist to better understand what key biographical information readers may gain from the website.
Moreover, I was interested in examining how Wikipedia may present the author’s page in concert with his or her work to also influence the ways in which internet audiences interpret African American literature.
Today, I chose to start by analyzing Alice Walker and compare her Wikipedia biographical page to her novel page The Color Purple.
What Wikipedia Has Taught Me About Alice Walker
- I learned that she is best known for the critically acclaimed novel The Color Purple (1982) for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
- I learned that she is an American author, poet, and activist.
- I learned Walker was born in Eatonton, Georgia, the youngest of eight children, to Willie Lee Walker and Minnie Lou Tallulah Grant.
- I learned that in 1952, Walker was accidentally wounded in the right eye by a shot from a BB gun fired by one of her brothers. Because the family had no car, the Walkers could not take their daughter to a hospital for immediate treatment. By the time they reached a doctor a week later, she had become permanently blind in that eye.
- I learned that Walker was her high school’s valedictorian and was voted most-popular girl, as well as queen of her senior class.
- I learned that after high school, Walker went to Spelman College in Atlanta on a full scholarship in 1961 and later transferred to Sarah Lawrence College near New York City, graduating in 1965.
- I learned that Alice Walker met Martin Luther King Jr. when she was a student at Spelman College in Atlanta in the early 1960s.
- I learned that as a young adult, she volunteered to register black voters in Georgia and Mississippi.
- I learned that in 1965, Walker met Melvyn Roseman Leventhal, a Jewish civil rights lawyer. They were married on March 17, 1967 in New York City. Later that year the couple relocated to Jackson, Mississippi, becoming “the first legally married inter-racial couple in Mississippi.”
- I learned that Walker’s first book of poetry was written while she was a senior at Sarah Lawrence.
- I learned that her 1975 article, In Search of Zora Neale Hurston, published on Ms Magazine, helped revive interest in the work of Zora Neale Hurston, who inspired Walker's writing and subject matter. In 1973, Walker and fellow Hurston scholar Charlotte D. Hunt discovered Hurston's unmarked grave in Ft. Pierce, Florida
- I learned that In addition to her collected short stories and poetry, Walker's first novel, The Third Life of Grange Copeland, was published in 1970.
- I learned what awards Walker has received over the years.
- I learned about Walker’s full bibliography including novels, short story collections, poetry collections, and non-fiction works.