The Nobel Prize-winning novelist, Toni Morrison, was born Chloe Anthony Wofford in 1931 as the second of four children in a black working-class family.
She received a B.A. in English from Howard University in 1953 and an M.A. in American literature from Cornell University in 1955. Later, she worked as a senior editor at Random House for 20 years.
Awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1993, she was the first African-American winner and the first American woman to win since 1938. She won the National Humanities Medal in 2000 for her contributions to American cultural life and thought, the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for her acclaimed book, Beloved, and the National Book Critics Award in 1977 for Song of Solomon. She has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1981, and a board member of Advancing Human Rights (AHR).
She has held teaching posts at Yale, Bard College and Rutgers. In 1984, the New York State Board of Regents appointed her to the Albert Schweitzer Chair in the Humanities at the State University of New York at Albany, a position she held until 1989, when she joined the Princeton faculty as the Robert F. Goheen Professor of literature and writing.
In 2005, the American Library Association awarded Morrison the Coretta Scott King Award, which honors African-American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults. She won for her 2004 book, Remember: The Journey to School Integration. Morrison’s other novels include Love, The Bluest Eye, Sula, Tar Baby, Jazz, Paradise and A Mercy.
In November 2011, Morrison’s play, Desdemona, about the doomed heroine in Shakespeare’s Othello, was staged at the Lincoln Center. Peter Sellars directed.