Toni Morrison, the acclaimed writer who explored black identity in the United States in her literature, died in the Bronx, New York on Monday. She was 88.

According to several reports, Morrison — who in 1993 became the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature — died due to complications from pneumonia. In 1993, the Toni Morrison Society was founded to honor her work and life.

Among Morrison’s most famous works were Beloved, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988, 1970’s The Bluest Eye, and 1977’s Song of Solomon. Many of her novels received both commercial success and critical acclaim.

Morrison’s story-lines were known for paying tribute to black culture and history, for being non-linear and for frequently shifting between different time periods. Among the historical eras her novels were set in were slavery, the Civl War and the Civil Rights Movement. Her use of fantastical elements in her novels also led to them being often compared to Latin American magical realist writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez.


Ohio served as the setting for many of Morrison’s work, as she was born in and grew up in the state as a member of a working-class family. She was born Chloe Ardelia Wofford.

After graduating from Howard University in Washington in 1953, Morrison obtained her graduate degree at Cornell in 1955. She then went on to teach English for two years at Texas Southern University, a historically black college in Houston and then returned to teach at Howard. Morrison also worked as an editor at Random House.

The author married a Jamaican architect named Harold Morrison in 1958 and got divorced from him six years later.

Among the other accolades Morrison received throughout her life were the National Humanities Medal in 2000 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2012.

Morrison is survived by her son Harold and three grandchildren. She had a son named Slade, with whom she collaborated on children’s books, who died in 2010.

Social media quickly lit up on Tuesday with tributes to Morrison after her death was announced:

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