Toni Morrison, a giant of American literature and the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities Emeritus at Princeton University in New Jersey, died on August 5. She was 88 years old.
Professor Morrison joined the faculty at Princeton University in 1989 and taught in the creative writing program until transferring to emeritus status in 2006. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for her novel Beloved. In 1993, Professor Morrison was the first African American to be awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. In 2012, Professor Morrison was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama. Her latest book was The Source of Self-Regard: Selected Essays, Speeches and Meditations (Knopf, 2019).
Christopher L. Eisgruber, president of Princeton University, stated that “Toni Morrison’s brilliant vision, inspired creativity, and unique voice have reshaped American culture and the world’s literary tradition. Her magnificent works will continue to light a path forward for generations of readers and authors. She revised this University, too. Through her scholarly leadership in creative writing and African American studies, and through her mentorship of students and her innovative teaching, she has inscribed her name permanently and beautifully upon the tapestry of Princeton’s campus and history.”
A native of Loraine, Ohio, Professor Morrison was a 1953 graduate of Howard University in Washington D.C., where she majored in English. She earned a master’s degree in American literature at Cornell University.
Before Professor Morrison joined the faculty at Princeton in 1989, she taught at the University at Albany of the State University of New York System and had been an editor at Random House for 20 years. Early in her career, Professor Morrison was an instructor at Texas Southern University and Howard University.