Toni Morrison, 1931 – 2019

August 6, 2019 | Viveca

Comments (4)

Toni Morrison lecture at West Point Military Academy in March, 2013 / Wikimedia Commons.

Toni Morrison has died at the age of 88. Since 1970, Morrison's novels have explored the African-American experience with both power and authenticity and have fiercely resisted the narrative of white dominant culture. Born in Ohio during the Great Depression, Morrison's family worked multiple jobs to send her to university where she majored in English. Working as a teacher, editor and publisher, Morrison released her first novel, The Bluest Eye in 1970. Over the last 50 years, Morrison's work has garnered the Pulitzer Prize, the Légion d’Honneur, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and, in 2012, Barack Obama presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

In 1993, Morrison became the first black woman to win the Nobel Prize. In her acceptance speech, Morrison stated: "We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives." Indeed, Morrison's language not only created space for voices that were silenced or erased, but will continue to inspire generations of writers and readers to come. 

Read the tributes to Toni Morrison from the CBC, the Washingon Post, the Guardian, the New York Times and the Toronto Star.

If you have not read any of Morrison's work or wish to re-read her novels, there are riches to be found at the Toronto Public Library. For further study, the Toronto Public Library also has a large selection of critical works

The Bluest Eye Song of Soloman

The Bluest Eye


The Song of Soloman

Beloved Tar Baby



Tar Baby

Home A Mercy



A Mercy

Jazz Sula




Love Paradise





Toni Morrison at Harbourfront's International Festival of Authors.
Toni Morrison at the Harbourfront's International Festival of Authors in 1982. Photo from the Toronto Star Photograph Archive.