Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Margaret Walker once sued Alex Haley for copyright infringement

Margaret Walker
Carolyn Brown's "Song of My Life: A Biography of Margaret Walker" (University Press of Mississippi, $20), is a new look at the prize-winning poet and author of "Jubilee," a semi-fictional historical novel based on the author's bi-racial grandmother. In the biography, I learned many things I had not known.

  • That Walker and husband "Alex" Alexander began their married life in 1943 in High Point, N.C.
  • That Walker began her teaching career at Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C. in 1940.
  • That Walker was the first African-American woman selected to attend Yaddo, an artist's retreat in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Also in residence with Walker were Carson McCullers, Langston Hughes and Jean Stafford.
  • That Walker sued Alex Haley, author of the Pulitzer-winning book, "Roots," for copyright infringement for "significant parallels between her "Jubilee" and Haley's "Roots"...enough to lead her to believe that he had stolen her work." Walker did not win the case, but she considered it "time well spent" for what she learned about copyright infringement.