Morrison was one of the most inspirational figures in American writing. She was also the first African-American woman to win a Nobel Prize. Her family said that Morrison passed away after a brief illness at Montefiore Medical Center in The Bronx.
Author Toni Morrison, the winner of Nobel Prize in Literature and the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, died on Monday at the age of 88, her publisher, Alfred Knopf, confirmed on Tuesday, according to The New York Times. Morrison was one of the most inspirational figures in American writing. She was also the first African-American woman to win a Nobel Prize. Her family said that Morrison passed away after a brief illness at Montefiore Medical Center in The Bronx. “Toni Morrison passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends,” the family said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The consummate writer who treasured the written word, whether her own, her students or others, she read voraciously and was most at home when writing.” Morrison published her first novel, The Bluest Eyes, in 1970. She became a Nobel laureate in 1993! Speaking of other awards and accolades, her list includes the 1988 Pulitzer Prize in fiction for Beloved, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom bestowed by Barack Obama in 2012.
Toni Morrison was a national treasure. Her writing was not just beautiful but meaningful—a challenge to our conscience and a call to greater empathy. She was as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page. And so even as Michelle and I mourn her loss and send our warmest sympathies to her family and friends, we know that her stories—that our stories—will always be with us, and with those who come after, and on and on, for all time, wrote Barack Obama on his Facebook Page.
Throughout her career, Morrison wrote 11 novels, five children’s books, two plays, and an opera. New York Public Library president Anthony Marx called her death “devastating.” “We will miss her amazing spirit, insight, wisdom, and friendship, and we will treasure her corpus all the more,” Marx said in a statement. Prior to becoming the legendary author we know Morrison as, she was a part of the team at Random House from 1967 to 1983, becoming the first black woman editor at the storied publisher, according to HuffPost.
“Toni Morrison’s working life was spent in the service of literature: writing books, reading books, editing books, teaching books. I can think of few writers in American letters who wrote with more humanity or with more love for language than Toni,” Knopf Chairman Sonny Mehta said in a statement to HuffPost Tuesday. “Her narratives and mesmerizing prose have made an indelible mark on our culture.
"Her novels command and demand our attention. They are canonical works, and more importantly, they are books that remain beloved by readers.” Morrison was an alumnus of Howard University, where she later went on to teach while writing her debut novel, 1970′s The Bluest Eye. She also taught several students at Yale, Bard College, Rutgers and the State University of New York at Albany.
Morrison was born on Feb. 18, 1931, as Chloe Ardelia Wofford. She was the second of four children to parents George and Ramah Wofford, who were said to have left the South during the Great Migration. Morrison shares two sons, Harold and Slade, with ex-husband Harold Morrison, whom she divorced in 1964. In 2010, her son Slade died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 45.