June 1, 2014

Toni Morrison, an American novelist, editor, and professor.
Toni Morrison

  • Full Name: Toni Morrison
  • Birth Name: Chloe Anthony Wofford
  • Alias: Toni
  • Born: February 18th 1931
  • Astrological Sign: Aquarius
  • Place of Birth:Lorain, Ohio, United States of America
  • Father: George Wofford (?1908-1975)
  • Mother: Ella Ramah Wofford (née Willis) (?1906-1994)
  • Siblings: an elder sister: Lois (b. 1929) and two younger brothers, George Carl Wofford (b. 1935) and Raymond Allen Wofford (b. 1943)
  • Marriage: 1958
  • Spouse: Harold Morrison (b. 1932)
  • Number of Children: 2 sons: Harold Ford Morrison (b. 1961); Kevin Slade Morrison (1964-2010)
  • Education:  Cornell University, Howard University
  • Known for:her compassionate observation of the black community, revealing its struggle, its suffering
  • Criticised for: NA
  • Influences: William Faulkner, Herman Melville, James Baldwin, Doris Lessing, Octavia E. Butler, Bell hooks, Christopher Barzak
  • Influenced: Junot Díaz, Homi K. Bhabha, Tracy Chevalier, Mohsin Hamid, Octavia E. Butler, Bell hooks, David Anthony Durham, Christopher Barzak


“It's a marvelous beginning. It's a real renaissance. You know, we have spoken of renaissances before. But this one is ours, not somebody else's.” Essence, Interview

Major Themes:

  • Cultural heritage of African Americans
  • Slavery
  • African American women
  • Relationship between the individual and society

Memorable Characters:

The Bluest Eye
  • Pecola Breedlove
  • Cholly Breedlove
  • Soaphead Church (alias Elihue Micah Whitcomb)
  • Sula Peace
  • Chicken Little
  • Shadrack
Song of Solomon
  • Macon “Milkman”
  • Pilate Dead
  • Guitar Bains
  • Baby Suggs
  • Sethe
  • Beloved

Notable Works:

  • The Bluest Eye (1970)
  • Sula (1973)
  • Song of Solomon (1977)
  • Tar Baby (1981)
  • Beloved (1987)
  • Jazz (1992)
  • Paradise (1999)
  • The Big Box (1999)
  • The Book of Mean People (2002)
  • Love (2003)
  • A Mercy (2008)
  • Home (2012)


  • National Book Critics Circle Award (1977)
  • American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award (1977)
  • Honorary degree, Barnard College (1979)
  • Pulitzer Prize (1988)
  • American Book Award (1988)
  • Robert F. Kennedy Book Award (1987-88)
  • Anisfield Wolf Book Award in Race Relations (1988)
  • Modern Language Association of American Commonwealth Award in Literature (1989)
  • Nobel Prize in Literature (1993)
  • Commander of the Arts and Letters, Paris (1993)
  • Rhegium Julii Prize for Literature (1994)
  • Condorcet Medal, Paris (1994)
  • The Pearl Buck Award (1994)
  • Jefferson Lecture (1996)
  • National Book Foundation's Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters (1996)
  • National Humanities Medal (2000)
  • Honorary degree, Oxford University (2005)

Media Gallery:

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison

Did you Know?

  • Morrison’s father, George Wofford, worked primarily as a shipyard welder, but he held several jobs at once to support the family.
  • Her mother, Ramah, was a domestic worker.
  • She was the second child and the second girl to Wofford family.
  • Her parents moved to Ohio in order to keep their children aloof from the racist environment of the South. In Ohio Morrison grew up playing with a racially diverse group of friends. However, she began to experience racial discrimination during her teenage.
  • She changed her name to Toni because people at Howard had trouble pronouncing the name Chloe.
  • These days she is known as Toni Morrison, which is a mix of the college nickname and her married name.
  • Even after her divorce she continued to use her former husband’s last name.
  • In 1964 Morrison married the Jamaican architect Harold Morrison; the couple got divorced in 1964.
  • Morrison’s younger son Slade died on December 22, 2010 at the age of 45.
  • Morrison attended Hawthorne Elementary School, where she was the only African American in her 1st grade classroom.
  • Morrison learned to read at an early age and she was the only student at Hawthorne Elementary School to begin school with the ability to read. Morrison was so competent that she was often asked to help other students learn to read. She frequently worked with the children of new immigrants to America.
  • Morrison’s works were largely influenced by music and folktales of the black community, which she was introduced by her parents, specially her father.
  • Tony Morrison is the first black woman to receive the Nobel Prize.
  • Her first novel The Bluest Eye (1970) was an expansion of an earlier short story.
  • In 1975 her novel Sula (1973) was nominated for the National Book Award.
  • Her most successful novel is Beloved (1987). When the novel failed to win the National Book Award as well as the National Book Critics Circle Award, 48 black critics and writers protested the omission. Shortly afterward, it won the Pulitzer Prize (1988) for fiction and the American Book Award.
  • 1998 Beloved was adapted into a film starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover.
  • Although Morrison’s novels chiefly centre around black women, she disinclined to label her works as feminist.
  • Morrison also co-authored several books for children with her son Slade, which include Big Box (1999), and Little Cloud and Lady Wind (2010).
  • Since childhood Morrison was an avid reader and the circle of her favorite authors includes Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy.
  • At present Morrison stands amongst the most critically acclaimed living writers.
  • Even though Morrison infuses her work with African-American elements, she was able to attract a reading audience from across racial boundaries.



 “Biography of Toni Morrison.” GradeSaver. 2014. GradeSaver LLC. 27 May 2014

“Biography of Toni Morrison.” Shmoop. 2014. Shmoop University. 27 May 2014

 “Toni Morrison.” Microsoft Encarta. DVD-ROM. Redmond: Microsoft,2005.

“Toni Morrison.” Wikipedia. 2014. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 27 May 2014

“Toni Morrison.” Evi. 2014. Evi Technologies Ltd. 27 May 2014
< http://www.evi.com/q/toni_morrison>.

 “Toni Morrison Biography.” Biography. 2014. A&E Television Networks, LLC. 27 May 2014

Visionaryproject. "Nobel Prize Winner Saul Bellow Reads His Fiction." Online video clip.
YouTube, 16 March 2012. Web. 27 May 2014.

Tanvir Shameem Tanvir Shameem is not the biggest fan of teaching, but he is doing his best to write on various topics of language and literature just to guide thousands of students and researchers across the globe. You can always find him experimenting with presentation, style and diction. He will contribute as long as time permits. You can find him on:


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