Toni Morrison Biography

Toni Morrison Biography

Toni Morrison Biography & Literary Works

Date of Birth 18 February 1931
Birth Place Lorain, Ohio, USA
Date of Death 5 August 2019
Cause of Death Pneumonia
Burial Place Greenwood Cemetery, Rye, New York, USA
Age 88
Literary Age/Era Postmodern Era
Education Howard University, Cornell University
Love Affair N/A
Matrimonial Life Divorced
Spouse Harold Morrison (1958-1964)
Children Harold Ford Morrison, Slade Morrison
Major Events in Life Won the Nobel Prize in Literature (1993), Published “Beloved” (1987), Appointed to the National Council on the Arts (1980)
First Publication “The Bluest Eye” (1970)
Last Publication “The Source of Self-Regard: Essays, Speeches, Meditations” (2019)
Posthumous Publication Various collections of letters and unpublished works
Famous Quotation “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

Toni Morrison Biography


Toni Morrison, born Chloe Ardelia Wofford on February 18, 1931, in Lorain, Ohio, was the second of four children in a working-class African American family. She developed a passion for literature from a young age.

Morrison attended Howard University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, and then Cornell University, where she completed a Master of Arts in American Literature.

She worked as an editor at Random House and was a professor at various universities, including Princeton.

Morrison married Harold Morrison in 1958, but they divorced in 1964. She had two sons, Harold Ford Morrison and Slade Morrison. Morrison continued to write and teach until her death from pneumonia on August 5, 2019.


Toni Morrison had several close friends and acquaintances who played significant roles in her life and literary career. Some notable individuals among her circle of friends include:

James Baldwin: The renowned writer and social critic was a close friend and mentor to Morrison. Their friendship was based on mutual respect and admiration for each other’s work.

Angela Davis: Activist and scholar Angela Davis was a friend and collaborator with Morrison. They shared a commitment to social justice and African American culture.

Sonia Sanchez: Poet and playwright Sonia Sanchez was a contemporary and friend of Morrison. Their work often intersected in themes and their dedication to African American literature.

Oprah Winfrey: The media mogul was a close friend and admirer of Morrison. Winfrey’s book club selections and adaptations of Morrison’s novels brought her work to a wider audience.

Early Interest in Literature:

From a young age, Morrison showed a keen interest in literature. She was an avid reader and writer, influenced by authors such as Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy and her father’s storytelling.

Academic Achievement:

Morrison was the first black woman to hold a chair at an Ivy League university when she became the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University in 1989. She earned her BA in English from Howard University and her MA from Cornell University.


Toni Morrison attended Howard University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1953. She then went on to Cornell University, where she completed a Master of Arts degree in American Literature in 1955.

Her academic background influenced her deep understanding of literary traditions and African American culture.

Literary Career

Morrison began her literary career by publishing her first novel, “The Bluest Eye,” in 1970. This was followed by “Sula” in 1973 and “Song of Solomon” in 1977, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Her most famous work, “Beloved,” was published in 1987 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988. Morrison’s novels often examine African American identity, history, and community themes.

Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, becoming the first African American woman to receive this honor. Her other notable works include “Jazz” (1992), “Paradise” (1997), and “A Mercy” (2008).

In 1993, Morrison became the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. The Nobel Committee praised her for her visionary force and poetic language, which brought to life an essential aspect of American reality.


Toni Morrison’s African American heritage and Christian upbringing influenced her religious views. Her work often incorporates spiritual and mystical elements, reflecting a deep engagement with faith, redemption, and the human spirit.


Morrison’s work often stirred controversy due to its unflinching portrayal of African American life and history. Some critics accused her of focusing too much on racial issues, while others lauded her for giving voice to marginalized communities. Her novel “Beloved” was particularly controversial for its graphic depiction of slavery and its aftermath.


Toni Morrison died on August 5, 2019, from complications of pneumonia. She was buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Rye, New York, USA.

Literary Works Works

The Bluest Eye (1970)
Genre: Fiction

Description: This debut novel tells the story of Pecola Breedlove, a young African American girl who dreams of having blue eyes. The book explores themes of beauty, identity, and racism.

Beloved (1987)
Genre: Fiction

Description: “Beloved” is a novel about a former enslaved woman named Sethe who is haunted by the ghost of her dead daughter. The book explores themes of slavery, motherhood, and trauma.

Song of Solomon (1977)
Genre: Fiction

Description: This novel follows the life of Macon “Milkman” Dead III, an African American man living in Michigan, as he embarks on a journey to discover his heritage and identity. It won the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Jazz (1992)
Genre: Fiction

Description: Set in Harlem during the 1920s, “Jazz” explores the lives of African Americans in the Jazz Age, focusing on themes of love, betrayal, and redemption.

A Mercy (2008)
Genre: Fiction

Description: This historical novel, set in the late 17th century, examines the roots of slavery in America through the interconnected lives of several characters.

The Source of Self-Regard: Essays, Speeches, Meditations (2019)
Genre: Non-Fiction

Description: This collection of essays, speeches, and meditations showcases Morrison’s reflections on literature, culture, and society. It provides insight into her intellectual and creative life.

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