Walker giving lit archive to Emory library

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ATLANTA -- Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker is placing her literary archive at Emory University's library.

The author of the 1983 Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Color Purple," "By the Light of My Father's Smile" and other works 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 Tuesday.

"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," Walker said in a 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 periodically visit Emory to give talks to students.

Emory is "a place where my archive can rest with joy in the company it keeps," Walker 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," which also won the National Book Award -- and correspondence between Walker and editors, friends and family. Some of the correspondence is from Oprah Winfrey, composer-musician Quincy Jones and author Tillie Olsen.

The collection also includes papers Walker wrote while at Sarah Lawrence College, where she received an undergraduate degree.

"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." Walker was born in Eatonton.

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

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.
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