Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison dies at 88

Toni Morrison (Photo Credit: USA Today)
Toni Morrison (Photo Credit: USA Today)

Toni Morrison, author of influential works of literature on the black experience such as “Beloved,” “Song of Solomon” and “Sula” and the first African-American woman to win a Nobel Prize, has died, her publisher Knopf confirmed to CNN.

According to npr.org, Ms Morrison died Monday night at the age of 88 at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, “following a short illness.”

Ms Morrison’s work focused on African-American life and culture, and she dominated an industry in which depictions of black life were often limited and rooted in stereotype.

Her novels were usually on the lives of African Americans. She told their stories with a singular lyricism, from the post-Civil War maelstrom of “Beloved” to the colonial setting of “A Mercy” to the modern yet classic dilemmas depicted in her 11th novel, “God Help the Child.”

A decorated novelist, editor and educator , she was a professor emeritus at Princeton University .

“I know how to write forever. I don’t think I could have happily stayed here in the world if I did not have a way of thinking about it, which is what writing is for me. It’s control. Nobody tells me what to do. It’s mine, it’s free, and it’s a way of thinking. It’s pure knowledge,” CNN quoted Morrison as saying.

She was nearly 40 when she published her first novel in 1970.

Early Life

The author was born as Chloe Anthony Wofford on February 18, 1931, in Lorain, Ohio. She was the daughter of George and Ella Ramah Wofford.

In 1953, she graduated from Howard with a degree in English. She went on to earn a master’s from Cornell University in 1955.

She married Jamaican architect Harold Morrison in 1958 and gave birth to two sons — Harold Ford in 1961 and Slade Kevin in 1964. She and her husband divorced after six years of marriage.

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Ms Morrison began her storied career in letters as a college instructor at Texas Southern University and later at Howard, her alma mater.

In 1963, she took a position as a book editor at Random House based in Syracuse, New York, where she worked for 20 years before leaving in 1983. Ms Morrison was editing the works of others when she published her first novel at age 39.

She went on to write about a dozen novels. Most applauded among them was the 1987’s “Beloved,” which is about a former slave who kills her baby to ensure it is never enslaved.

About 10 years after, Oprah Winfrey produced and starred in a movie based on the book.

Ms Morrison was 56 when Beloved was published in 1987

“Beloved” won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Her non-fiction works included 1974’s collection of African-American historical ephemera “The Black Book,” 1992’s “Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination” and 2004’s “Remember: The Journey to School Integration.”

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