1993 Nobel laureate in literature Toni Morrison, who was known for her work that explored the black identity—in particular the black woman identity—in America, died on Monday in New York City at the age of 88. A spokesperson says her death was caused by complications of pneumonia. She was the first African-American woman to win the Nobel prize in literature.
Born Chloe Ardelia Wofford on February 18, 1931, Morrison took on the middle name Anthony, from the saint, when she converted to Catholicism at age 12. Friends later shortened this to Toni during her college years.
The author of 11 novels on top of a slew of children’s books and essay collections, Morrison’s work was often well celebrated. Her book “Song of Solomon” received the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1977, while her other work “Beloved” won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. Her collection of work also includes “The Bluest Eye,” “Paradise,” “Love,” and many more. Due to the level of which her books were decorated, Morrison garnered many famous fans, such as Hilary Clinton, Marlon Brando, and Oprah Winfrey.
In a statement sent through publisher Alfred A. Knopf, Morrison’s family noted the writer’s illness and reflected on her life.
“Toni Morrison passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends,” announced the family. “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.”
In an interview reported by the BBC, Morrison stressed how important writing was to her and to the world.
“When I began, there was just one thing that I wanted to write about, which was the true devastation of racism on the most vulnerable, the most helpless unit in the society – a black female and a child,” said Morrison.