Toni Morrison is recognized as one of the most influential writers in American literary history. In 1993, she was the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Her eleven major novels—The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, Beloved, Jazz, Paradise, Love, A Mercy, Home, and God Help the Child—have earned extensive critical acclaim. She received the National Book Critics Award in 1978 for Song of Solomon and the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Beloved. Her books of essays include Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination; and The Origin of Others drawn from her 2016 Norton Lectures at Harvard University; the edited collection Race-ing Justice, En-Gendering ; and the co-edited collection Birth of a Nation’hood.
Ms. Morrison’s lyrics include the song cycles “Honey and Rue” commissioned by Carnegie Hall for Kathleen Battle, with music by André Previn; “Four Songs” with music by Mr. Previn, premiered by Sylvia McNair: “Sweet Talk” written for Jessye Norman with music by Richard Danielpour; and “WomanLife.Song” commissioned by Carnegie Hall for Jessye Norman with music by Judith Weir. She also wrote the libretto for the opera “Margaret Garner” with music by Richard Danilepour. After premieres in Detroit, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia, “Margaret Garner” opened at the New York City Opera in September 2007.
Morrison is the Robert F. Goheen Professor Emerita in the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University. Prior to her Princeton appointment she held the Schweitzer Chair at the State University at Albany. She was a senior editor at Random House for 20 years.
Looking to provide her students opportunities to engage in real-life work with professional artists across various arts fields, Ms. Morrison created the Princeton Atelier at Princeton University in 1993. The program convenes guest artists to develop some aspect of a professional project in the company of students. Ms. Morrison directed the program until 2006 when she became emerita and Consultant to the Atelier.
Among her many prestigious awards are the 2000 National Humanities Medal, the 2010 Chevalier, Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom, The 2016 PEN/Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, and the 2017 American Academy of Arts and Sciences Emerson-Thoreau Medal.
Morrison is a trustee of the New York Public Library, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Author’s Guild.
She has degrees from Howard and Cornell universities and honorary degrees from numerous institutions including Harvard and the Sorbonne.