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"W" is for Walker, William Aiken (1839-1921)

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio

"W" is for Walker, William Aiken (1839-1921). Painter. A native Charlestonian, Walker probably first exhibited a painting at age eleven. After service in the Civil War, he settled in Baltimore, but returned to Charleston often to visit friends on nearby plantations, sketching their homes and the African Americans who worked for them. Walker’s name became practically synonymous with painting in the South by the end of the century, so popular were his images of African Americans, their cabins, and their way of life. He spent his summers in Baltimore, autumn in Charleston, then headed to Florida or New Orleans for the winter. Although a serious and accomplished artist, William Aiken Walker nevertheless used an assembly-line method to generate a prodigious output of postcard-size portraits that he sold to northern tourists as souvenirs of the Old South.

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.