Legendary writer and teacher Toni Morrison died Monday night at the age of 88 in New York, reports her family. In a statement through her publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, they further explain that she passed away after battling a brief illness.
“Toni Morrison passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends,” the statement reads. “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.”
Toni Morrison, born Chloe Ardelia Wofford in 1931, was an iconic novelist, essayist and professor, known best for her works of fiction including her novels Beloved and Song of Solomon which shine a light on the dark realities of slavery and the African American experience. In 1998, Beloved was adapted into a film of the same name starring Oprah and Danny Glover.
Morrison’s accolades include (but are in no way limited to) a Nobel Prize in Literature, a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, bestowed on her by then-President Barack Obama in 2012. She has written 11 novels, five children’s books, two plays and nine works of non-fiction including a book of essays published this year.
More than her technical achievements, Morrison is lauded for her work giving women, particularly black women, the courage and precedence to find their voices, speak out and tell their stories when they are so often overlooked and silenced by society. Until her retirement in 2006, Morrison worked as Chairman on the board of Humanities at Princeton University and spent her latter years finishing novels (the last of which, God Help the Child, was published in 2015) and consulting on the editorial board of The Nation.