Toni Morrison

Mini Biography

Toni Morrison was born in Loraine,Ohio, to Ramah and George Wofford. Her parents moved to Ohio to escape southern racism and instilled a sense of heritage through telling traditional African American folktales.As a child she read from her favorite authors which were Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy. 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 began writing fiction as part of an informal group of poets and writers at Howard University who met to discuss their work. She attended one meeting with a short story about a black girl who longed to have blue eyes.

Education

In 1949 Morrison went to Howard University graduating in 1953 with a B.A. in English; she went on to earn a Master Of Arts from Cornell University in 1955.She taught English First at Texas Southern University in Houston for two years.She taught at Howard University for seven years.She met Harold Morrison, a Jamaican architect, at Howard, who she married in 1958. The couple had two children and divorced in 1964. After the break up of her marriage, she worked as an editor, first in Syracuse and later in New York City.

Career

  • Morrison began writing fiction as part of an informal group of poets and writers at Howard University who met to discuss their work. She attended one meeting with a short story about a black girl who longed to have blue eyes. She later developed the story as her first novel, The Bluest Eye in 1970. In 1975 her novel Sula (1973) was nominated for the National Book Award. Her third novel Song of Solomon (1977), brought her national attention.That Same Year, Morrison took a visiting Professorship at Bard College.In 1993 Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize In Literature. Her citation reads: Toni Morrison, "Who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.

*Awards*

  • 1977: National Book Critics Circle Award for Song of Solomon

  • 1977: American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award

  • 1987–88: Robert F. Kennedy Book Award

  • 1988: Helmerich Award

  • 1988: American Book Award for Beloved

  • 1988: Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Race Relations for Beloved

  • 1988: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for Beloved

    • 1989: MLA Commonwealth Award in Literature

    • 1993: Nobel Prize for Literature

    • 1993: Commander of the Arts and Letters, Paris

    • 1994: Condorcet Medal, Paris

    • 1994: Pearl Buck Award

    • 1994: Rhegium Julii Prize for Literature

    • 1996: Jefferson Lecture

    • 1996: National Book Foundation's Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters

Controversies

The novel, set in 1941 in the author’s hometown of Lorain, Ohio, is about an 11-year-old black girl named Pecola Breedlove who longs to be a white child with blonde hair and blue eyes. She is raped and impregnated by her own father. The book was challenged in a high school in Livingston County, Mich., because of its strong sexual content. In response to a request from the president of the Livingston Organization for Values in Education (LOVE), a conservative social activist group, the county’s top law enforcement official reviewed the books to see whether laws against distribution of sexually explicit materials to minors had been broken. “After reading the books in question, it is clear that the explicit passages illustrated a larger literary, artistic or political message and were not included solely to appeal to the prurient interests of minors,” the county prosecutor wrote. “Whether these materials are appropriate for minors is a decision to be made by the school board, but I find that they are not in violation of the criminal laws.” This is talking about the book she wrote.