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Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison




  • Born on February 18, 1931, in Lorain, Ohio, Toni Morrison is a Nobel Prize- and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, editor and professor.
  • Toni Morrison was the second oldest of four children. Her father, George Wofford, worked primarily as a welder, but held several jobs at once to support the family.
  • Her mother, Ramah, was a domestic worker. Morrison later credited her parents with instilling in her a love of reading, music and folklore along with clarity and perspective.


  • Attending Lorain High School, she was on the debating team, the yearbook staff, and in the drama club.
  • In 1949, she enrolled at the historically black Howard University in Washington, D.C., seeking the company of fellow black intellectuals.
  • She graduated in 1953 with a B.A. in English and went on to earn a Master of Arts from Cornell University in 1955. Her master’s thesis was titled “Virginia Woolf’s and William Faulkner’s treatment of the alienated.”
  • She taught English, first at Texas Southern University in Houston for two years, then at Howard University for seven years.


  • While teaching at Howard, she met Harold Morrison, a Jamaican architect, whom she married in 1958. She was pregnant with their second son when she and Harold divorced in 1964.
  • After the breakup of her marriage, Morrison began working as an editor in 1965, for L. W. Singer, a textbook division of publisher Random House, in Syracuse, New York.


  • Morrison’s first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970. In 1975, Morrison’s second novel Sula (1973), about a friendship between two black women, was nominated for the National Book Award.
  • Her third novel, Song of Solomon (1977), follows the life of Macon “Milkman” Dead III, from birth to adulthood, as he discovers his heritage.
  • This novel brought her national acclaim, being a main selection of the Book of the Month Club. Song of Solomon also won the National Book Critics Circle Award.


  • ¬†Rising literary star, Morrison was appointed to the National Council on the Arts in 1980. The following year, Tar Baby was published.
  • Her next work, however, proved to be one of her greatest masterpieces. Beloved (1987) explores love and the supernatural.
  • For this spellbinding work, Morrison won several literary awards, including the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Ten years later, the book was turned into a movie starring Oprah Winfrey, Thandie Newton and Danny Glover.


  • Beloved is the first of three novels about love and African-American history, sometimes called the Beloved Trilogy.
  • The second novel in the trilogy, Jazz, came out in 1992. Told in language that imitates the rhythms of jazz music, the novel is about a love triangle during the Harlem Renaissance.
  • Before Morrison published the third novel of the trilogy, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. The third novel of her Beloved trilogy, Paradise, about citizens of an all-black town, came out in 1997.


  • In 1999, Morrison branched out to children’s literature. She worked with her artist son Slade on The Big Box (1999), The Book of Mean People (2002), The Ant or the Grasshopper? (2003) and Little Cloud and Lady Wind (2010).
  • From 1997 to 2003, Morrison was an Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University. Morrison’s novel A Mercy, released in 2008, is set in the Virginia colonies of 1682.
  • From 1989 until her retirement in 2006, Morrison held the Robert F. Goheen Chair in the Humanities at Princeton University.
  • Morrison wrote books for children with her younger son, Slade Morrison, who was a painter and a musician. Slade died of pancreatic cancer on December 22, 2010, aged 45. Morrison’s novel Home was half-completed when her son died.
  • In addition to her many novels, Morrison has crafted nonfiction as well. She published a collection of her essays, reviews and speeches, What Moves at the Margin, in 2008.
  • Morrison’s eleventh novel, God Help the Child, was published in 2015


  • Morrison died at Montefiore Medical Center in The Bronx, New York City, on August 5, 2019, from complications of pneumonia. She was 88 years old


  • The Bluest Eye. 1970
  • Sula. 1973.
  • Song of Solomon. 1977.
  • Tar Baby. 1981.
  • Beloved. 1987.
  • Jazz. 1992.
  • Paradise. 1997.
  • Love. 2003.
  • A Mercy. 2008.
  • Home. 2012.
  • God Help the Child. 2015.