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Biography: Resurrecting Zora
Alice Walker

Time Line

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  • 1970:  While researching for a short story on voodoo, Alice discovers the folk stories of Zora Neale Hurston.
  • 1972:  Alice moves with her daughter Rebecca to Massachusetts where she is taught at Wellesley College a course on African-American Women Studies, the first class of its kind in the country. She also teaches classes at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.
  • 1973:  Alice and a friend, Charlotte Hunt, fly down to Eatonville, FL, Zora Neale Hurston's birthplace and places a tombstone on her unmarked grave.
  • 1973:  Alice's second volume of poetry, Revolutinary Petunias and Other Poems is published, along with her first short story collection, In Love and In Trouble: Stories of Black Women.
  • 1974: Alice Walker moves back to New York where she becomes a contributing editor at Ms. Magazine. Her book Langston Hughes: American Poet is published.
  • 1976:  She and her husband Mel Leventhal divorce amicably.
  • 1976:  Her novel Meridian is published. Critics hail it as one of the best novels to come out of the Civil Rights movement.
  • 1976: Alice begins work on her third work of poetry, "Goodnight Willie Lee, I'll See You in the Morning."


Ms. Magazine, Meridian and the Late 70s

In 1974, Alice's book, Langston Hughes: American Poet was published, which was a reader whose intention was to teach children about the legendary Harlem Renaissance Poet. She was also hired as a contributing editor for Ms. Magazine. Alice moved to New York City with her husband and her daughter, Rebecca. While living there, Alice worked only part-time at the magazine and dedicated the remainder of her time to her writing.

Meridian, which was Alice's second novel, was published in 1976. Although the book had its detractors, overall the book came out to great critical acclaim. Her novel was one of the first books based on the lives of women in the Civil Rights struggle. Although Alice was achieving critical success in the public limelight, behind closed doors her marriage was falling apart. She and her husband, Mel Leventhal decided to divorce. The divorce was an amicable one and when they separated they decided to remain friends.

Alice described this as being a very difficult time in her life. Still reeling from the grief over death of her father and her divorce, Alice turned to writing to sustain her through the pain. She began work on a third work of poetry, Good Night Willie Lee, I'll See You in the Morning. After her poems were sent to her publisher, Alice began the genesis of what would be her third novel and most celebrated novel.

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