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BACKGROUND INFORMATION - BIOGRAPHY
Toni Morrison is an American author and educator who was born on February 18, 1931 in Lorain, Ohio. Her original name is Chloe Anthony Wofford and she was born of parents whose families had been sharecroppers in the American south. She graduated from Howard University in 1953 and earned a master's degree in English from Cornell University two years later. She has worked as a book editor and taught literature at several universities, notably Princeton University. Her marriage to Harold Morrison, a Jamaican architect, ended in divorce.
In 1993 she won a Noble Peace Prize for her novels that are said to be "characterized by visionary force and poetic import." She was the first African American woman to win this prize. Her memorable characters are made transcendental by the particularity and skill with which she draws them. As an educator and editor, Morrison has endeavored to move the work of African-American writers from the periphery to a central place in American culture. Her own writing is rooted in the desire to "bear witness" to an essential American fact -- the enslavement of African-Americans. In bringing the experiences of African Americans to full recognition, she sees possibilities for a reconciliation between blacks and whites.
Her novels include: The Bluest Eye(1970), Sula (1973), Song of Solomon (1977; National Book Critics Circle Award ,1977), Tar Baby (1981), Beloved (1987; Pulitzer Prize for fiction, 1988), and Jazz (1992).