Toni Morrison, the Nobel Prize-winning author, died on Monday, August 5 in New York at the age of 88. Her publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, shared the news from her family with the world.
“It is with profound sadness we share that, following a short illness, our adored mother and grandmother, Toni Morrison, passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends.
“She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt who reveled in being with her family and friends,” the family said in a statement through Knopf, according to USA Today.
“The consummate writer who treasured the written word, whether her own, her students or others, she read voraciously and was most at home when writing. Although her passing represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long, well lived life.”
Morrison, who was born on February 18, 1931. When she was about 2-years-old, her parents couldn’t pay the rent so the landlord set their house on fire. Her family’s response was to laugh at the landlord. It was said to have taught the future author about how to maintain integrity and claim your own life in the face of evil.
She is best known for works such as Beloved, Song of Solomon, and The Bluest Eyes, as well as her novels which primarily focus on black life in America. The Bluest Eyes, which was her first novel released in 1970, is about a black girl who wants blue eyes like a white girl.
Released in 1987, Beloved became one of Morrison’s biggest novels. It is about a mother named Margaret who murders her baby to save her from slavery, and it won the Pultizer Prize for fiction in 1988.
In fact, Oprah Winfrey played Margaret in the 1998 film adaption. The film also starred Danny Glover and was even nominated for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design.
Morrison’s connection to Winfrey ended up being great for her book sales. In fact, Winfrey selected a number of Morrison’s novels for her book club segment on her talk show, which helped to increase sales.
She was the first African American woman to receive the Nobel literature prize in 1993 and she was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012 by then-President Barack Obama.