Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison, 1931–, American writer, b. Lorain, Ohio, as Chloe Ardelia (later Anthony) Wofford; grad. Howard Univ. (B.A., 1953), Cornell (M.F.A., 1955). Her fiction is noted for its poetic language, lush detail, emotional intensity, and sensitive observation of American life as viewed from a variety of African-American perspectives. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye (1970), is the story of a girl ruined by a racist society and its violence. Song of Solomon (1977; National Book Award) established her as one of America's leading novelists. It concerns a middle-class man who achieves self-knowledge through the discovery of his rural black heritage. Her later fiction includes Beloved (1987; Pulitzer Prize), a powerful account of mother love, murder, and the legacy of slavery; and Jazz (1992), a tale of love and murder set in Harlem in the 1920s. Her other novels are Sula (1973), Tar Baby (1981), Paradise (1997), Love (2003), A Mercy (2008), and Home (2012).

Among Morrison's other works are the essay collections Race-ing Justice, En-Gendering Power (1992) and Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (1992); several children's books, including The Big Box (2000), written with her son, Slade; a play, Dreaming Emmett (1986); a song cycle, Honey and Me (1992), written with André Previn; an opera libretto, Margaret Garner (2003); and, in collaboration with Malian singer-songwriter Rokia Traoré, Desdemona (2011), a dramatic and musical reinterpretation of Shakespeare's Othello. Awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature, she was the first African American to win the coveted prize. Morrison, who was an influential editor at Random House for nearly two decades, has been a professor at Princeton since 1989 and was the founder (1994) of the Princeton Atelier, a writers' and performers' workshop.

See D. Taylor-Guthrie, ed., Conversations with Toni Morrison (1994) and C. Y. Denard, ed., Toni Morrison: Conversations (2008); studies by B. W. Jones (1985), A. I. Vinson (1985), N. Y. McKay, ed. (1988), H. Bloom (1990, repr. 2005), H. L. Gates, Jr., and K. A. Appiah, ed. (1993), P. Page (1995), N. J. Peterson, ed. (1997), L. Peach (1995 and, as ed., 1998), D. L. Middleton, ed. (2000), S. A. Stave, ed. (2006), J. L. Carlacio (2007), S. N. Mayberry (2007), J. L. J. Heinert (2008), L. V. D. Jennings (2008), R. Lister (2009), and K. Zauditu-Selassie (2009).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Toni Morrison: A Critical Companion
Missy Dehn Kubitschek.
Greenwood Press, 1998
Toni Morrison's World of Fiction
Karen Carmean.
Whitston, 1993
Understanding Toni Morrison's Beloved and Sula: Selected Essays and Criticisms of the Works by the Nobel Prize-Winning Author
Solomon O. Iyasere; Marla W. Iyasere.
Whitston, 2000
Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon
Harold Bloom.
Chelsea House, 1999
Librarian’s tip: This is a book of literary criticism
Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye
Harold Bloom.
Chelsea House, 1999
Librarian’s tip: This is a book of literary criticism
Toni Morrison: An Ethical Poetics
Yvette Christiansë.
Fordham University Press, 2013
The Novels of Toni Morrison: The Search for Self and Place within the Community
Patrick Bryce Bjork.
Peter Lang, 1996
Can't I Love What I Criticize? The Masculine and Morrison
Susan Neal Mayberry.
University of Georgia Press, 2007
Toni Morrison's Developing Class Consciousness
Doreatha Drummond Mbalia.
Susquehanna University Press, 2004 (2nd edition)
Toni Morrison's Beloved and the Apotropaic Imagination
Kathleen Marks.
University of Missouri Press, 2002
Maternal Body and Voice in Toni Morrison, Bobbie Ann Mason, and Lee Smith
Paula Gallant Eckard.
University of Missouri Press, 2002
Contemporary Fiction
Jago Morrison.
Routledge, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "Toni Morrison: Blackness and the Historical Imagination"
The Artist as Outsider in the Novels of Toni Morrison and Virginia Woolf
Lisa Williams.
Greenwood Press, 2000
Unflinching Gaze: Morrison and Faulkner Re-Envisioned
Carol A. Kolmerten; Stephen M. Ross; Judith Bryant Wittenberg.
University Press of Mississippi, 1997
Becoming and Bonding: Contemporary Feminism and Popular Fiction by American Women Writers
Katherine B. Payant.
Greenwood Press, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Toni Morrison: African American Women and Men, an Uneasy Alliance"
Black Women Writers and the American Neo-Slave Narrative: Femininity Unfettered
Elizabeth Ann Beaulieu.
Greenwood Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "The Politics of Gender in Toni Morrison's Beloved: If 'A Man Ain't Nothing but a Man,' Then What Is a Woman?"
Of Dreams Deferred, Dead or Alive: African Perspectives on African-American Writers
Femi Ojo-Ade.
Greenwood Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Creative African Memory: Some Oral Sources of Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon"
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