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Alice Walker To Place Literary Papers at Emory University


Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker is placing her literary archive at Emory University’s library, university officials said this week.

Walker, a native of Eatonton, Ga., and author of the 1983 prize-winning “The Color Purple,’” has spotlighted the struggle of Southern blacks, particularly women. She visits Emory every couple of years for readings and meetings with faculty members. That relationship was key in her decision to place her archive at the institution, university officials said.

In a statement released through the university, the author said she chose Emory because she feels “at ease and comfortable” there.

“I can imagine in years to come that my papers and memorabilia, my journals and letters will find themselves always in the company of people who care about many of the things I do: culture, community, spirituality, scholarship and the blessings of ancestors who want each of us to find joy and happiness in this life, by doing the very best we can to be worthy of it,” said Walker in the statement.

Walker said Emory’s relationship with the Dalai Lama also played a part in her decision. The Tibetan spiritual leader joined the university’s faculty in October as a Presidential Distinguished Professor and plans to visit Emory periodically to give talks to students.

Emory is “a place where my archive can rest with joy in the company it keeps,” Walker said.

Walker was traveling Tuesday and unavailable for further comment, an Emory spokeswoman said.

Her archive spans 40 years and includes journals she has kept since she was a teenager, drafts of many of her works of fiction, including “The Color Purple,” and correspondence between Walker and editors, friends and family. Some correspondence is from Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones and Tillie Olsen.

The collection also includes papers Walker wrote while at Sarah Lawrence College, where she received an undergraduate degree. She went to Sarah Lawrence after two years at Atlanta-based Spelman College.

“The archive is remarkably complete,’’ said Steve Enniss, director of Emory’s manuscript, archives and rare book library. “It’s especially gratifying when we make an acquisition of a writer who is a native Georgian. It’s fitting that her papers have come to Emory in a state where she was born.”

The archive will be ready for public viewing in about a year, Enniss said.

Walker was the first black woman to win a Pulitzer for fiction writing. She also won a National Book Award for “The Color Purple.”‘

Emory has an extensive literary archive with papers from such writers as Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, Seamus Heaney, Salman Rushdie and Flannery O’Connor.

–Associated Press

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