Toni Morrison

Learn more about the life of contemporary novelist Toni Morrison.
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Birthplace: Lorain, OH
Education: Howard University, Cornell University

Chloe Anthony Wofford lived in an integrated neighborhood of a small town in Ohio. She loved to read books and grew up in a family of storytellers. After graduating from high school with honors, Chloe went to Howard University in Washington, DC, where she was given the nickname "Toni." She received her M.A. in English literature from Cornell University. Toni started writing fiction while she was a teacher at Howard University.

Toni's books are often emotional portrayals of African-American life. Her first two novels, The Bluest Eye and Sula, received favorable reviews. Her first best-seller, Song of Solomon, won the National Book Critics' Circle Award for best fiction in 1977. Toni was on her way to becoming one of America's leading novelists. Beloved won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988. Morrison was awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature, and the Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy called Morrison "a literary artist of the first rank" whose novels are "characterized by visionary force and poetic import." She is the second American woman to receive this prestigious award.

Since 1989, Ms. Morrison has been the Robert F. Goheen Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University. Morrison published her seventh novel Paradise in 1998.

"I would like my work to do two things: be as demanding and sophisticated as I want it to be, and at the same time be accessible in a sort of emotional way to lots of people, just like jazz. That's a hard task. But that what I want to do."
–Toni Morrison in an interview with The New York Times Magazine, 1994

Related Resources

Selected Works by Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye
Song of Solomon
Tar Baby

Dreaming Emmet (performed 1986, but unpublished)

Playing in the Dark-Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England: Harvard University Press 1992.
Racing Justice, Engendering Power: Essays on Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas and the Others on the Constructing of Social Reality. Ed. and introduction Toni Morrison, Chatto and Windus 1992.

Web Resource
Biography of Toni Morrison from the Gale Salutes Black History Month site

Black History Month Return to the Encyclopedia
of Prominent African Americans
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