Toni Morrison has said that she "never planned to be a writer."1 The closest her ambitions took her to a creative life was an early dream of becoming a dancer. But her destiny was writing, even if she didn't know it for a long time. Finally, in her late thirties, she found that writing was not only pleasurable but also necessary for her. Prior to starting her writing career Morrison was increasingly bothered by the feeling that life had somehow passed her by. "I used to really belong in this world," she thought to herself, but "at some point I didn't belong here anymore."2 The experience of working on her first novel changed all that. As she poured her imagination into her story, and the characters took on life, she became aware of the miraculous rewards of the creative act. "I was everybody," she discovered. "And I fell in love with myself. I reclaimed myself and the world."3 Moreover, she discovered that writing "was a way of knowing, a way of thinking" that she found "really necessary." 4 Since then, guided by these feelings, Morrison has gone on to write so impressively that she is now recognized as one of the foremost novelists of her time.
Morrison was born Chloe Anthony Wofford on February 18, 1931, in Lorain, Ohio, the second of four children. Both her parents had arrived in this steel mill town on the banks of Lake Erie from the South. Since they happened to be black, they thought of the South not as home but as a region from which they had escaped. Morrison's father had left Georgia because of racist atrocities which haunted him all his life. Thus he became a racist himself, believing he was justified in hating all whites,