Groundbreaking author and Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison has died, her family and her publisher announced Tuesday. Her body of work on the African American experience included the internationally acclaimed books, The Bluest Eye, Beloved, Song of Solomon and Sula.
The Ohio native died Monday night at Montefiore Medical Center in New York from complications from pneumonia. She was 88.
Morrison was the first African-American woman to win a Nobel Prize, and her words illuminated the pain and endurance of the African American experience.
Morrison was born Chloe Ardelia Wofford, on February 18, 1931, the second of four children. She attended Howard University and earned a master’s degree from Cornell University in 1953. Her thesis was titled, The Treatment of the Alienated in Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner.
The celebrated author went on to teach at Howard, and she married architect Harold Morrison in 1958. The couple had two sons.
Her novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970 and her second novel, Sula, debuted three years later.
Song of Solomon was published in 1977 and put her on the road to international acclaim. It was the first in a series of novels that examined the African American experience and won the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Song of Solomon traces the life of Macon “Milkman” Dead III, an African-American male who lived and died in Michigan.
It can be argued that Beloved was Morrison’s best-known work, and in 1998 the book was made into a film starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover.
Morrison was made an officer of the French Legion of Honour in 2010 and she was awarded the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012. The medal is the country’s highest civilian honor. Her final novel, God Help The Child, was published in 2015.