Born Chloe Ardelia Wofford in Lorain, Ohio on February 18, 1931, Toni Morrison is a prolific, creative novelist whose books deal with the sense of community among African Americans and the effects of history on one's identity and relationships. Influenced by writers like William Faulkner and Virginia Woolf, Morrison at times employs a stream-of-consciousness approach in her novels. The plots of her books can be complex and challenging to read, but given Morrison's unique style, the reader comes away rewarded and edified. Morrison often mixes history and "reality" with the supernatural and spiritual. In "Beloved", for example, a ghost is a major character and a community of women band together to exorcise this spirit from the past.
Born into a working class family in Ohio, Morrison's parents made sure their children were taught traditional African American folktales. An excellent student, Morrison graduated from Howard University in 1953 and earned her M.A. in English from Cornell University in 1955. She then taught English in Texas for two years before returning to Howard to teach for over five years. It was there that she met her husband, Harold Morrison. The marriage produced two children but ended in divorce in 1964. Morrison worked as an editor for a major publishing company for almost twenty years. In 1970 her first novel, "The Bluest Eye" was published. A second novel "Sula" was published in 1973, to be followed by "Song of Solomon"-a book that brought her to national attention. She was a respected author when "Beloved" was published in 1987. This rich, complex novel won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the American Book award. The book was adapted into a movie in 1998. Other novels followed "Beloved" demonstrating Morrison's creativity and discipline. In 1993 Morrison was award the Nobel Prize for Literature. While writing and raising her two children, she taught English at several universities, finally teaching at Princeton University from 1989 until her retirement from teaching in 2006. She continued to write after her retirement: "A Mercy", "Home", and "God Help the Child" were all published after 2006. "Home" is dedicated to her son, Slade, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2010. She also wrote children books ( with her son Slade), plays, a libretto , articles and non fiction. She is the recipient of many awards and prizes. In 2012, for example, she was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In March, 2016, she was given the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction.