amazing women series
Toni Morrison, born Chloe Ardelia Wofford is an American novelist, editor, and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters. Among her best known novels are The Bluest Eye and Beloved.
Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award in 1988 for Beloved and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. In 1996, the National Endowment for the Humanities selected her for the Jefferson Lecture, the U.S. federal government’s highest honor for achievement in the humanities.
Toni Morrison was born in Lorain, Ohio, to Ramah and George Wofford. She is the second of four children in a working-class family. Her parents moved to Ohio to escape southern racism and instilled a sense of heritage through telling traditional African American folktales. She read frequently as a child; among her favorite authors were Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy. According to a 2012 interview in The Guardian, she became a Catholic at the age of 12 and received the baptismal name “Anthony”, which later became the basis for her nickname “Toni”.
Morrison taught English at two branches of the State University of New York and at Rutgers University: New Brunswick Campus. In 1984 she was appointed to an Albert Schweitzer chair at the University at Albany, The State University of New York. From 1989 until her retirement in 2006, Morrison held the Robert F. Goheen Chair in the Humanities at Princeton University.
She has conceived and developed the prestigious Princeton Atelier, a program that brings together talented students with critically acclaimed, world-famous artists. Together the students and the artists produce works of art that are presented to the public after a semester of collaboration. In her position at Princeton, Morrison used her insights to encourage not merely new and emerging writers, but artists working to develop new forms of art through interdisciplinary play and cooperation.
In April 2015, speaking of the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Walter Scott—three unarmed black men killed by white police officers—Morrison said “People keep saying, ‘We need to have a conversation about race.’ This is the conversation. I want to see a cop shoot a white unarmed teenager in the back. And I want to see a white man convicted for raping a black woman. Then when you ask me, 'Is it over?’, I will say yes.”