Born Chloe Anthony Wofford on February 18, 1931 in Lorain, Ohio to parents George and Ella Ramah Wofford, novelist Toni Morrison grew up in a working class family. She received a B.A. degree from Howard University after majoring in English and minoring in the classics. Wofford earned an M.A. degree in English from Cornell University and then taught at Howard University and Texas Southern University, before entering the publishing world as an editor at Random House. She married (and later divorced) Harold Morrison and gave birth to sons Ford and Slade Kevin. Morrison taught at Yale, Bard College, Rutgers University and the State University of New York at Albany. She later held the Robert F. Goheen Professorship in the Humanities at Princeton University.
Recognized internationally as a major American writer, Morrison is the author of eight novels, including The Bluest Eye (1973)—the story of a little black girl’s quest for identity and acceptance in a world that privileged whiteness; Sula (1973), which celebrates friendship between women and the complexity of black womanhood; Song of Solomon (1977), which follows its male protagonist, Milkman Dead, on his quest for cultural heritage; and Tar Baby (1981), which explores a love affair between a couple from radically different socio-economic backgrounds. Morrison’s early works received critical acclaim, including National Book Awards nominations and the National Book Critics’ Circle Award for Song of Solomon.
Morrison’s fifth novel, Beloved (1987), a haunting story about the atrocities of slavery and a black slave mother’s effort to protect her children against its dehumanizing effect through infanticide, won the Pulitzer Prize, and was instrumental in her receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003. In 2006, Beloved, made into a movie starring Oprah Winfrey, was named the greatest work of American fiction in the past twenty five years by The New York Times Book Review.
In her subsequent novels Jazz (1992), Paradise (1998), and Love (2003), Morrison