Toni Morrison, the influential writer who became the first African American woman to receive a Nobel award, has died in New York City. She was 88 years old.
“She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt who reveled in being with her family and friends,” her family said in a statement, adding that Morrison was surrounded by those loved ones when she died.
“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,” the statement said. “Although her passing represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long, well lived life.”
Members of the publishing world, including Penguin Random House – Morrison served 16 years as an editor there – were quick to express their condolences for Morrison, a literary titan known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning “Beloved.” She also was the author of “Song of Solomon” and “The Bluest Eye.”
Morrison received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1993 and, among other honors, was presented a Presidential Medal of Freedom by former United States President Barack Obama in 2012. “The Pieces I Am,” a documentary film celebrating her life, saw its premier at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
She was a 1953 graduate of Howard University, where she later taught. Morrison also taught classes at universities including Yale, Rutgers and finally Princeton, where she retired as Robert F. Goheen Chair in the Humanities in 2006.
While Morrison’s family requested privacy at this time, they said they are planning a celebration of the author’s life and will provide additional details at a later time.
Image: Authors Guild file