We talked about ten astounding black authors in the last article. And, one of the names featured in it was Toni Morrison. She was born on February 18th 1931 in Ohio, with the name of Chloe Ardelia Wofford. If you have ever heard about her, you have surely heard about her numerous prizes in literature.
Toni Morrison is one of the biggest and most recognized authors. Her works are focused in the lives of women of color and the way they have changed throughout the years and the evolution of society’s ideology and overall citizen acceptance.
She is known for many books, essays, and poems, but there are some that truly shot her to fame in this literature world. We mentioned one of her most controversial works in the last article, which is “The Bluest Eye”, published in 1970. But, her most famous writing is considered to be a trilogy that begins with a book called “Beloved”, which was published in 1987.
“Beloved” was inspired by a true story of an African American woman who had been captured in slavery but managed to escape. Even though escaping slavery is quite a dramatic situation in itself, the real and intense drama begins when the main character, Margaret Garner, is facing the possibility of being taken in slavery once again.
Garner, absorbed by fear and desperation caused by this fact, decides to kill her two-year old daughter and then commit suicide to avoid becoming a slave again. But, just before taking action in killing herself, after she had already murdered her baby, she is captured. The plot continues to take place as the baby’s ghost, Beloved, is haunting her mother.
Although the book received good reviews from many other authors, book reviewers and the public, it also received many bad comments from the conservative side of society due to its plot. That didn’t stop “Beloved” from rising to be a best seller for 25 weeks.
“Jazz” and “Paradise” were her second and third publications respectively that followed and completed the trilogy. These and other books of hers have been featured in prestigious and important magazines and TV shows. But what deeply made a difference was when Oprah Winfrey decided to feature Toni Morrison on her talk show along with some of her works through a reading club and, if that wasn’t enough, Oprah brought “Beloved” to the screens.
She performed as the main character, Margaret Garner, and she was the co-producer of the film. These actions by Oprah Winfrey definitely created a huge boom in Morrison’s fame and success.
Toni Morrison is the owner of an incredible amount of prizes and recognitions, from which we can highlight the following:
• In 1993, when Toni Morrison won the Nobel Prize in Literature, she became the very first black woman in the world to win this prize.
• In 1998 she appeared on the cover of Time magazine, considered the most significant magazine of its kind and era in the United States. This time, she once again contributed to black women achievements in history, because she was the second woman and the second black writer to be the face of the magazine.
• In 2005 Oxford University gave her an Honorary Doctor of Letters.
• In 2006, after a thorough and rigorous investigation and selection, the New York Times Book Review chose “Beloved” to be awarded and recognized as “the best work of American fiction published in the previous 25 years” for the accomplishments that the book had gained becoming a classic in university’s curriculum and transcending into the literature world as a black female.
• She was a professor emeritus at Princeton University and in 2012 she was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, handed by former President Barack Obama.
Besides being a prominent author, Morrison worked as an editor as well, among famous collaborations and editions she made, you can find that she worked on the autobiography of boxer Muhammad Ali.
As an editor she always worked towards bringing black authors out of the “backstage”. Her position as a senior editor in the fiction department of Random House was a huge support for this. She became the first black woman to hold that position there as well.
Thanks to all her writing, thrive and collaboration, Toni Morrison is, ironically, a beloved and proud black woman, that has achieved around 31 groundbreaking prizes and prestigious international recognition.
For more info, we invite you to search for toni morrison’s wikipedia.