This week we lost another legend: Nobel Prize winning novelist Toni Morrison died Monday (August 5) in Montefiore Medical Center in New York. She was 88.
A rep from the publishing company Knopf confirmed her death saying that the “Song of Solomon” author passed after suffering from a “short illness,” but died peacefully, surrounded by loved ones,” Vulture reported.
Born Chloe Anthony Wofford on February 18, 1931, in Lorain, Ohio, Morrison was 40-years-old when she published her first novel, “The Bluest Eye.” From there, her career skyrocketed, writing nearly two-dozen books (fiction and nonfiction) including her post-slavery ghost drama “Beloved,” which made her the first African-American to win a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. That, and it was turned into a movie by Oprah Winfrey and Jonathan Demme in 1998.
Some of her other noted novels included “Tar Baby,” “Sula,” Love and “Paradise.”
In addition to winning countless awards including the Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters and the Pulitzer Prize Nobel Laureate, in 2012, President Barack Obama presented Morrison with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, LitHub.com noted.
When it came to depicting Black life on the page, Morrison had an incredible gift of conveying the complexity of our lives—the good, the bad and the ugly—with mesmerizing and unforgettable prose. She was also never one to subscribe to respectability politics in her work making sure she tackled sexism, sexual assault, racism and class in her texts.
Outside of writing, “Morrison was known for her groundbreaking contributions as an editor at Random House from 1967 to 1983. She was the first African-American woman to hold an editorial position in the company’s history, working with writers like Gayl Jones, Toni Cade Bambara and Angela Davis. Morrison also held teaching positions at Howard University, Yale, Bard College, SUNY Purchase, Rutgers, and Princeton,” LitHub.com wrote.
In a statement, Morrison’s family said: “It is with profound sadness we share that, following a short illness, our adored mother and grandmother, Toni Morrison, passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends.”
Adding, “She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt who reveled in being with her family and friends. 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.”
As news of Morrison’s death hit, Black women joined forces on social media to mourn our beloved literary hero, pay homage to her legacy and to share some of the prolific author’s most popular quotes.
Rest in power Toni.