Toni Morrison

1931 –

Toni Morrison was born Chloe Anthony Wofford on February 18, 1931, in Lorain, Ohio. She received a BA from Howard University in 1953 and an MA from Cornell University in 1955. She was the author of one volume of poetry, Five Poems (Rainmaker Editions, 2002), which features poems alongside illustrations by the artist Kara Walker.

Morrison is best known for her numerous novels, which include Beloved (Alfred A. Knopf, 1987), winner of the 1988 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, and Song of Solomon (Alfred A. Knopf 1977), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 1993, Morrison received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

In a 2008 profile on Morrison, poet Nikky Finney said,

Toni Morrison changed the landscape of American literature with The Bluest Eye, and has been changing it with every other book she’s published. There’s no one writing today about the history of this country like Morrison does, yet she too often gets relegated to questions about race. Her narratives arc the whole American experience […] She’s writing more honest narratives about the interplay of the human heart and the human mind than anybody else today.

Morrison served as an editor at Random House for nineteen years, where she brought forth the work of numerous writers, including Gayl Jones. She also held teaching positions at several universities, including Howard and Princeton. She died on August 5, 2019, in the Bronx, New York.