Best Known For
Toni Morrison is a Nobel Prize- and Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist. Among her best known novels are The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon and Beloved.
James Baldwin - Later Years (1:45)
Toni Morrison's novels include "The Bluest Eye," "Sula," and "Beloved."
Author Alice Walker began writing early in life. When an injury to her left eye afforded her the chance to go to College, Walker began to work towards her goal of becoming a professional writer.
While at Spelman College, Alice Walker turned down a scholarship to study abroad in Paris in order to go to Mississippi to pursue civil rights equality.
After writing about a variety of controversial issues and making his voice heard through several publications, James Baldwin.
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Morrison continued to explore the African-American experience in its many forms and time periods in her work. Her next novel, Sula (1973),
explores good and evil through the friendship of two women who grew up together. The work was nominated for the American Book Award.
Song of Solomon (1977) became the first work by an African-American author to be a featured selection in the book-of-the-month club since Native Son by Richard Wright. It follows the journey of Milkman Dead as he searches the South for his roots. Morrison received a number of accolades for this work.
A rising literary star, Morrison was appointed to the National Council on the Arts in 1980. The following year, Tar Baby was published. The novel drew some inspiration from folktales, and it received a decidedly mixed reaction from critics. Her next work, however, proved to be one of her greatest masterpieces. Beloved (1987) explores love and the supernatural. The main character, a former slave, is haunted by her decision to kill her children rather than see them become slaves. Three of her children survived, but her infant daughter died at her hand. For this spellbinding work, Morrison won several literary awards, including the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Ten years later, in 1998, the book was turned into a movie starring Oprah Winfrey.
Morrison became a professor at Princeton University in 1989, and continued to produce great works. In recognition of her contributions to her field, she received the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature, making her the first African-American woman to be selected for the award. The following year, she published the novel Jazz, which explores marital love and betrayal.
At Princeton, Morrison established a special workshop for writers and performers known as the Princeton Atelier in 1994. The program was designed to help students create original works in a variety of artistic fields. Outside of her academic work, Morrison continued to write new works of fiction. Her next novel, Paradise (1998), which focused on a fictional African-American town called Ruby, earned mixed reviews.
In 1999, Morrison branched out to children's literature. She worked with her son Slade on The Big Box, The Book of Mean People (2002) and The Ant or the Grasshopper? (2003). She has also explored other genres, writing the play Dreaming Emmett in the mid-1980s and the lyrics for "Four Songs" with composer Andre Previn in 1994 and "Sweet Talk" with composer Richard Danielpour in 1997.
Her next novel, Love (2003), divides its narrative between the past and present. Bill Cosey, a wealthy entrepreneur and owner of the Cosey Hotel and Resort, is the center figure in the work. The flashbacks explore his life, while his death casts a long shadow on the present part of the story. A critic for Publisher's Weekly praised the work, stating that "Morrison has crafted a gorgeous, stately novel whose mysteries are gradually unearthed."
In 2006, Morrison announced she was retiring from her post at Princeton.
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