Different cultural perspectives

Black perspectives

Alice Walker is among the best known of many black writers from the American South. Her work has been influenced and shaped by a lifetime of involvement in political activism and the struggles that African-Americans experienced from the time of slavery to the present day.

Walker has acknowledged a number of writers, male and female, black and white, whose work has influenced her own. Further details can be found at The life and times of Alice Walker.

African-American writers

  • W E B Du Bois (1868 – 1963) American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist (male)
  • Jean Toomer (1894 – 1967) American poet and novelist and an important figure of the Harlem Renaissance (male)
  • Langston Hughes (1902-1967) American playwright, novelist and musician (male)
  • Margaret Walker (1915-1998) American novelist and poet
  • Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965) American playwright; first black woman to write a play performed on Broadway
  • Toni Morrison (1931) American novelist
  • Gloria Naylor (1950) American novelist.

White perspectives

European writers

Walker also acknowledges the influence of European writers whose work demonstrates a commitment to - and an understanding of - female oppression and spirituality, or social and political issues: 

  • The Brontë sisters: Charlotte (1816-55), Emily (1818-48) and Anne (1820-49) British novelists and poets
  • Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) Russian novelist
  • Robert Graves (1895-1985) British novelist and poet. Walker dedicated The Temple of My Familiar to Graves because his work celebrated the idea of the ‘white goddess’, a representation of the creative spirit of the female
  • Simone de Beauvoir (1908-86) French novelist and essayist
  • Doris Lessing (1919-2013) British novelist, poet and playwright.

African perspectives

  • Elechi Amadi (b. 1934) Nigerian novelist and playwright who writes about African village life and customs. His work examines religious practices in Africa before contact with the Western world
  • Bessie Head (1937-1986) South African born novelist and journalist, later residing in Botswana. Her views on how God is perceived in Africa, in opposition to the perception of missionaries, probably influenced Walker’s presentation of religious themes
  • Ama Ata Aidoo (b.1940) Ghanaian novelist, poet, playwright and academic. Her protagonists are women who defy stereotypical women's roles
  • Buchi Emechera (b 1944) Nigerian born novelist, playwright and academic, now living in the UK. Her work deals with child slavery, motherhood, female independence and freedom through education.
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