Women's History History - Toni Morrison

Born Chloe Ardelia Wofford on February 18, 1931 in Lorain, Ohio, Toni Morrison has won numerous book prizes, including the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes. She is best known for her epics, The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon and Beloved, which was later made into a movie.

As a student, Morrison took her studies seriously, reading voraciously of European literature and learning Latin. After graduating with honors from Lorain High School in 1949, she attended Howard University where she majored in English and minored in classics. From Howard, Morrison went to Cornell University where she earned a masters degree in 1955.

Upon completing her formal education, Morrison moved to Houston to teach English at Texas Southern University, where she stayed for two years before returning to Howard to teach. While at Howard, she met Jamaican architect Harold Morrison whom she married in 1958. Toni Morrison joined a writers group that met on the Howard campus. At that time, she began working on her first novel, which she had intended to be a short story.

After the birth of their first son and while expecting their second, Toni and Harold divorced. He returned to Jamaica and she to her home state of Ohio. She soon moved her sons with her to Syracuse, New York where she began working with a textbook publishing company. After two years, she went to work for Random House in New York City where she became a senior trade-book editor. Morrison used this position to advance black literature.

In 1970, the short story Morrison began many years before was published. The Bluest Eye did not sell well, but Morrison was on her way to becoming one of the most successful American authors of her time. In 2012, upon her retirement from teaching at Princeton University, The New York Times Book Review named Beloved the best novel of the past 25 years.

Today, Morrison is on the editorial board of The Nation, a political magazine. She has been awarded numerous honorary degrees and continues to write, speak and partake in a variety of artistic endeavors.