Authors Black Women In History USA

Toni Morrison: First Black Female Writer To Win The Nobel Literature Prize


Toni Morrison: What was Toni Morrison most famous for?

Toni Morrison was a world-renowned writer, educator, and editor.

She authored 11 novels, as well as children’s books, nonfiction works, and plays.

She was a true trailblazing black female writer, and gather many accolades and awards for her writing.
Among them, she was the first black female author to win the Noble Prize in Literature, and she also won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award.

In addition to her writing career, Morrison has also had a long and successful career as an editor, working at Random House for almost 20 years.

Toni Morrison: Her Early Life and Marriage

Toni Morrison was born to Louise Marshall in Lorain, Ohio, on February 18, 1931, the second of four children.

Her mother was a homemaker and her father was a shipyard welder. Money was tight and was hard to come by.

When she was around two years old, her parents financial situation was so dire, that the family’s landlord who was so desperate to kick the family out for not paying that he actually set the house on fire.

Despite their moderate background, Morrison’s parents instilled in all children a passion for reading from an early age. She later said that her favorite authors growing up were  Jane Austen, Leo Tolstoy, and Gustave Flaubert.

She attended segregated schools in Lorain before going on to study English at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Being sent to a segregated school had a profound impact on her, and instilled in her a profound interest in black relations in the US – a theme that she would write often about.

Toni Morrison: Her Marriage To Husband Harold Morrison & Her Children, Ford & Slade Morrison

After graduating from Howard in 1953, she married Harold Morrison, a Jamaican architect.

The couple had two boys, Ford and Slade, before divorcing in 1964.

Both of Morrison’s children were young when she and Harold divorced; Ford was four years old, and Slade was just a baby.

Morrison later confessed that she was “devastated” by the divorce and that it had a profound effect on her work as a writer. She even went as far as to say that she doesn’t think she would have become a writer if she hadn’t gone through the experience of divorce.

After the divorce, Morrison moved to Syracuse, New York, where she raised her children as a single mother.

As a single mother, Morrison attested that she was very strict with her children and that she didn’t allow them to watch television or play video games. Instead, she pushed them to connect to their creativity.

Morrison has said that her children were her “first readers” and that she would often read her work-in-progress to them.

Both of Morrison’s children have followed in their mother’s footsteps and become successful writers.

Morrison, with her sons Ford (left) and Slade (right) at their upstate New York home, between 1980 and 1987

Toni Morrison: Her Writing Career

After her divorce, Morrison moved to New York City to pursue a career in publishing. She initially worked as a proofreader at Simon & Schuster before being promoted to an editorial position.

In 1967, she joined Random House as an editor in the textbook division. It was during her time at Random House that Morrison began working on her first novel, The Bluest Eye. The book was published in 1970 to critical acclaim but modest commercial success.

The lack of immediate commercial success for her book did not, however, deter her from deciding to write more books.

To the contrary, over the next decade, Morrison wrote several more novels, including Sula (1973), Song of Solomon (1977), and Tar Baby (1981).

These works established her as one of the preeminent writers of her generation and helped broaden the scope of African American literature.

In 1987, she published the Pulitzer Prize winning novel Beloved,

Beloved also became a bestseller and was later adapted into a successful film starring Oprah Winfrey.

In 1993, Morrison became the Robert F Goheen Professor of Humanities at Princeton University, where she taught until she retired in 2006.

In 2012, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

Toni Morrison: Death & Legacy

Toni Morrison is considered one of the most important writers of our time.

As a black female writer, Morrison has been able to provide a unique perspective on the African American experience.

Her novels often explore the issue of race and identity, and her characters are complex and multi-dimensional.

Toni Morrison: Complete List of Her Books For Adults

Beloved

Published in 1987, Morrison’s Beloved is her best-known and most controversial novel.

The story is set in the aftermath of the American Civil War and revolves around the life of a former slave, Sethe, who has killed her two-year-old daughter in an attempt to save her from a life of slavery.

The novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 and was adapted into a film starring Oprah Winfrey in 1998.

Song of Solomon

Published in 1977, Song of Solomon is Morrison’s second novel and is widely considered her breakout work.

The story follows the life of Macon “Milkman” Dead III, a young black man living in Michigan, as he comes to terms with his family history and identity.

The novel was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature.

Sula

Published in 1973, Sula is Morrison’s third novel and follows the lives of two black women, Nel Wright and Sula Peace, who are best friends growing up in the early 20th century.

The novel explores themes of feminism, sexuality, and betrayal, and was nominated for the National Book Award.

The Bluest Eye

Morrison’s first novel, The Bluest Eye was published in 1970 and tells the story of a young black girl, Pecola Breedlove, who is raped by her father and becomes pregnant.

The novel explores themes of race, class, and beauty, and was nominated for the National Book Award.

A Mercy

Published in 2008, A Mercy is Morrison’s ninth novel and is set in the American colonies in the late 17th century.

The story follows the lives of several characters, including a slave named Florens, who is given to a man in exchange for a debt.

The novel explores themes of race, religion, and slavery, and was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Paradise

Published in 1998, Paradise is Morrison’s seventh novel and tells the story of a group of black men and women who settle in an all-black town in Oklahoma called Ruby.

The novel explores themes of race, religion, and violence, and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

Love

Published in 2003, Love is Morrison’s eighth novel and tells the story of a group of people living in an apartment building in New York City.

The novel explores themes of love, race, and family, and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

Home

Published in 2012, Home is Morrison’s tenth novel and tells the story of a Korean War veteran who returns to his hometown in Georgia.

The novel explores themes of race, identity, and homecoming, and was nominated for the National Book Award.

God Help the Child

Published in 2015, God Help the Child is Morrison’s eleventh novel and tells the story of a young black woman named Bride, who was abused as a child.

The novel explores themes of abuse, race, and beauty, and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

The Source of Self-Regard

Published in after her death in 2019, The Source of Self-Regard is a collection of essays, speeches, and meditations by Morrison.

The book is divided into three parts: “The Making of Black Lives Matter,” “On Being Female, Black, and Free,” and “Dark Water.”

The book was nominated for the National Book Award.

Toni Morrison: Her Books For Children

As well as writing acclaimed books for adults, Morrison also wrote children’s books together with her son, Slade. Their stories are filled with vibrant characters, imaginative plotlines, and meaningful lessons about social justice, acceptance, resilience, and understanding.

At the same time, these stories focus on giving children positive representation of black characters and black stories.

Toni Morrison’s childrens books demonstrate Morrison’s commitment to teaching values of acceptance, resilience, and understanding through the power of storytelling.

These stories are filled with fun and adventure, as well as positive messages about family, friendship, and perseverance.

The Big Box (1999)

Written by both Toni and Slade, this beautiful story offers an exploration into imagination.

Through the characters of Fanny and Benny, young readers are taken on a journey full of surprises as they figure out how to turn ordinary things extraordinary!

The Big Box tells the story of an imaginative young girl named Toni who receives a mysterious package from her grandmother.

When she opens the box, she finds a magical world filled with strange creatures and all sorts of surprises. She must use her wits, courage, and imagination to survive and ultimately find her way home.

The Book of Mean People (2002)

The Book of Mean People tells the story of a young boy who is constantly bullied at school due to his unique appearance.

Through perseverance and support from his family and friends, he eventually learns to stand up for himself and finds that standing up to bullies is the best way to defeat them.

Peeny Butter Fudge (2009)

Rich in culture, this entertaining tale follows Grandma Lucas as she tells her grandkids stories about Peeny Butter Fudge – which just so happens to be more than just fudge!

Through adventures filled with laughter, tears, and new discoveries, this book will become one your kids won’t want to put down.

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