“Dear God, I am fourteen years old. I have always been a good girl. Maybe you can give me a sign letting me know what is happening to me.”
So begins “The Color Purple,” the story of Celie, a poor, black child-bride who struggles to escape her abusive stepfather in 1930s Georgia.
The author of the book, Alice Walker, born on this day in 1944 in Eatonton, Ga., told the tale mostly through Celie’s letters. The authenticity of her voice catapulted the novel to best-sellers lists, as well as a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award.
Ms. Walker was born to sharecroppers, the youngest of eight children. At age 8, she was blinded in one eye when her brother accidentally shot her with a BB gun.
She later wrote that the disfiguring scar and blindness left her feeling isolated and introspective. She started a journal and began to develop her writing voice.
“I think writing really helps you heal yourself,” Ms. Walker once told The Times. “I think if you write long enough, you will be a healthy person. That is, if you write what you need to write, as opposed to what will make money, or what will make fame.”