Toni Morrison (b. 1931) is a African American novelist and winner of both the Pulitzer and Nobel Prizes for literature. She was born Chloe Ardelia Wofford in Lorain, Ohio, the second of four children. At the age 12, she was baptized Catholic, taking the saint name Anthony, which became shortened to Toni.
In 1949, she attended Howard University, earning a B.A. in English in 1953 before earning an M.A. from Cornell in 1955. Her first job was teaching English at Texas Southern University, before returning to Howard as a faculty member. In 1958, she married fellow Howard profession Harold Morrison. Following their 1964 divorce, Toni Morrison eventually took a job as an editor for Random House in New York City.
Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970. Morrison had written the work while teaching at Howard and raising her two children. Sula (1973) was nominated for a National Book Award, while The Song of Solomon (1975) earned her critical and national attention. It was her 1987 novel Beloved that has drawn the most attention, winner of the Pulitzer and later made into a movie by Oprah Winfrey. In 2006, the New York Times Book Review named Beloved as the best novel of the previous quarter-century.
In 1993, Toni Morrison won the Nobel Prize for literature. Her later works include Jazz (1992), Paradise (1997), Love (2003), A Mercy (2008) and Home (2012). In 2012, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.