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Profile of the Day: Toni Morrison

Today we remember American novelist Toni Morrison, who has passed away at the age of 88. Known for her rich depiction of the black experience in America, Morrison became the first African American woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.

Profile of the Day: Toni Morrison

Image: Toni Morrison / Angela Radulescu, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

She was born Chloe Ardelia Wofford on February 18, 1931 in Lorain, Ohio to George Wofford and Ella Ramah Willis. She was the second of four children and grew up in a working-class community. At the age of 12, she joined the Catholic Church and took the baptismal name Anthony, which would lead to her nickname, Toni. Growing up, Morrison’s family instilled a strong sense of cultural heritage through the telling of traditional African-American folktales and ghost stories.

She had a love for literature from a young age, but did not publish her first book until later in life. Her first book, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970, when Morrison was 39 years old. In 1987, Morrison published her most acclaimed novel, Beloved. A critical and commercial success, Morrison would win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. She later received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, becoming the first African American woman to do so. In 2012, President Barack Obama presented Morrison with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor for a civilian.

Morrison died on August 5, 2019 after a brief illness.

View Toni Morrison’s Geni Profile


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