Toni Morrison Dies; Beloved Poet Laureate Was 88

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Toni Morrison, the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize in literature, died last night in a New York hospital.

She was 88 years old.

Toni Morrison

Knopf spokesman Paul Bogaards confirmed the author's death, but didn’t announce an immediate cause or provide any further details.

Morrison was born on February 18, 1931, in Lorain, Ohio.

She was the second oldest of four children born to George and Ramah Wofford, sharecroppers who had migrated north from Alabama.

The couple raised their kids in an integrated, working-class neighborhood, an experience Morrison would later explain as follows to The New York Times:

“When I was in first grade, nobody thought I was inferior. I was the only black in the class and the only child who could read.”

Morrison graduated with honors from Lorain High School in 1949 and went on to Howard University, where she majored in English and minored in the classics.

Toni Morrison Photo

Morrison's best known book is likely "Beloved," which centered on a mother making the tragic choice to murder her baby to save the girl from slavery; it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988.

Five years later, she awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature, as judges hailed her as one “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.

Morrison was also bestowed America's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2012.

You can see President Barack Obama hang the prize around her neck in the memorable photo above.

Toni Morrison Picture

Overall, Morrison was a renowned figure in literature, with multiple novels under her belt that spoke to the African-American experience.

Along with "Beloved," you may be familiar with "Jazz" and "Paradise," the three of which comprised a loose trilogy -- with the first book being adapted into the 1998 film starring Oprah and Danny Glover.

Other notable works include "Song of Solomon," "The Bluest Eye" and "Sula."

Throughout her unparalleled career, Morrison wrote 11 novels in her life, many non-fiction books, five children's books, two plays, two short fiction stories and one libretto.

She also wrote numerous essays and university papers.


Morrison is also sort of relevant right now for a very unfortunate reason.

On politics, she penned an essay shortly after the election of Donald Trump for the New Yorker titled "Mourning for Whiteness," calling out white supremacy.

A documentary about Toni's life was made also earlier this year called "Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am."

In a statement released by Princeton University, where she taught, the author's family called her "our adored mother and grandmother."


"She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt who reveled in being with her family and friends," the statement said, concluding as follows:

"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.

"Although her passing represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long, well lived life."

She leaves behind two children -- her sons, Slade and Harold -- and an endless array of citizens around the world who have been influenced by her works and her words.

May Toni Morrison rest in peace.

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