Trailblazing novelist, essayist, editor, teacher, and professor emeritus Toni Morrison passed away Monday night aged 88 after a short illness, her publicist and family confirmed to ABC News Tuesday.
Morrison had been at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York at the time of her death, the publicist said.
“She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt who reveled in being with her family and friends,” her family said in a statement, according to ABC News. “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.”
“While we would like to thank everyone who knew and loved her, personally or through her work, for their support at this difficult time, we ask for privacy as we mourn this loss to our family. We will share information in the near future about how we will celebrate Toni’s incredible life,” the statement added.
In 1993, Toni Morrison became the first black woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize after she took home the prize for her outstanding contribution to literature and giving life to an essential part of reality that had been so downplayed – the African American experience.
With over 12 books and 20 prestigious awards to her name, including a Grammy for best spoken word album, Toni Morrison only started writing at the age of 39 when she had read so many works of fiction but did not find anything on the things she was really interested in – lives of regular black people living during significant times such as slavery and the civil war.
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Toni Morrison is celebrated around the world as the greatest writer of our time with her books such as Beloved, Sula, The Bluest Eye and Songs of Solomon on the reading requirements list of several top notch schools around the world.
Her book, Beloved, about a black woman who killed her daughter to save her from returning to slavery won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award in 1988. It was adapted into a film starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover in 1998.
In 1996, the National Endowment for the Humanities selected Morrison for the Jefferson Lecture, the U.S. federal government’s highest honor for achievement in the humanities.
She was honoured with the 1996 National Book Foundation’s Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In 2012, President Barack Obama presented Morrison with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and in 2016, she received the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction.