August 6, 2019, 10:01am
Toni Morrison, the prolific author of such classics as Beloved and Song of Solomon, died Monday night at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. She was 88 years old.
Morrison had an outsized influence on American letters for decades, culminating in 1993 when she became the first African-American to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. Three years later, the National Book Foundation awarded her the Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In 2012, President Barack Obama presented Morrison with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Morrison was known for her groundbreaking contributions as an editor at Random House from 1967 to 1983. She was the first African-American woman to hold an editorial position in the company’s history. Morrison also held teaching positions at Howard University, Yale, Bard College, SUNY Purchase, Rutgers, and Princeton.
In a statement, Morrison’s family said: “It is with profound sadness we share that, following a short illness, our adored mother and grandmother, Toni Morrison, passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends. She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt who reveled in being with her family and friends. The consummate writer who treasured the written word, whether her own, her students or others, she read voraciously and was most at home when writing. Although her passing represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long, well lived life.”