Morrison, Toni

Morrison, Toni

Morrison, Toni, 1931-, American writer, b. Lorain, Ohio, as Chloe Ardelia (later Anthony) Wofford; grad. Howard Univ. (B.A., 1953), Cornell (M.F.A., 1955). Her fiction is noted for its poetic language, lush detail, emotional intensity, and sensitive observation of American life as viewed from a variety of African-American perspectives. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye (1970), is the story of a girl ruined by a racist society and its violence. Song of Solomon (1977; National Book Award) established her as one of America's leading novelists. It concerns a middle-class man who achieves self-knowledge through the discovery of his rural black heritage. Her later fiction includes Beloved (1987; Pulitzer Prize), a powerful account of mother love, murder, and the legacy of slavery; and Jazz (1992), a tale of love and murder set in Harlem in the 1920s. Her other novels are Sula (1973), Tar Baby (1981), Paradise (1997), Love (2003), and A Mercy (2008).

Among Morrison's other works are the essay collections Race-ing Justice, En-Gendering Power and Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (both: 1992); several children's books, including The Big Box (2000), written with her son, Slade; a play, Dreaming Emmett (1986); a song cycle, Honey and Me (1992), written with André Previn; and an opera, Margaret Garner (2003). Awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature, she is the first African American to win the coveted prize. Morrison, who was an influential editor at Random House for nearly two decades, has been a professor at Princeton since 1989 and is the founder (1994) of the Princeton Atelier, a writers' and performers' workshop.

See D. Taylor-Guthrie, ed., Conversations with Toni Morrison (1994) and C. Y. Denard, ed., Toni Morrison: Conversations (2008); studies by B. W. Jones (1985), A. I. Vinson (1985), N. Y. McKay, ed. (1988), H. Bloom (1990, repr. 2005), H. L. Gates, Jr., and K. A. Appiah, ed. (1993), P. Page (1995), N. J. Peterson, ed. (1997), L. Peach (1995 and, as ed., 1998), D. L. Middleton, ed. (2000), S. A. Stave, ed. (2006), J. L. Carlacio (2007), S. N. Mayberry (2007), J. L. J. Heinert (2008), L. V. D. Jennings (2008), R. Lister (2009), and K. Zauditu-Selassie (2009).

orig. Chloe Anthony Wofford

(born Feb. 18, 1931, Lorain, Ohio, U.S.) U.S. writer. She studied at Howard and Cornell universities, taught at various universities, and worked as an editor before publishing The Bluest Eye (1970), a novel dealing with some of the shocking realities of the lives of poor blacks, and Sula (1973). The brilliant Song of Solomon (1977) brought her national attention. Her later novels include Tar Baby (1981), Beloved (1987, Pulitzer Prize), Jazz (1992), and Paradise (1998). The African American experience, particularly that of women, is the principal theme of her fiction. Her use of fantasy, her sinuous poetic style, and her interweaving of mythic elements give her stories texture and great power. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.

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Toni is usually a given name. In English it is often female, the male version being Tony. Toni may refer to:

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