Toni Morrison, the renowned author best known for her Pulitzer-winning novel Beloved and for chronicling the African American experience, has died at the age 88. While the cause of death was not immediately clear, her family told Good Morning America that she had a “short illness.” She was at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York at the time of her death.
In a statement to GMA, the Morrison family confirmed the sad news that the legendary writer had passed away:
“She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt who reveled in being with her family and friends. The consummate writer who treasured the written word, whether her own, her students or others, she read voraciously and was most at home when writing. Although her passing represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long, well lived life. While we would like to thank everyone who knew and loved her, personally or through her work, for their support at this difficult time, we ask for privacy as we mourn this loss to our family. We will share information in the near future about how we will celebrate Toni’s incredible life.”
Born Chloe Ardelia Wofford in Lorain, Ohio in 1931, Morrison would begin her career as an English teacher and then become an editor before publishing her own first novel, The Bluest Eye, in 1970. She continued to publish novels such as Beloved, Sula, and Song of Solomon, which all received critical acclaim. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the highest accolades began pouring in, including her Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 for Beloved and later the Nobel Prize in Literature for the same novel in 1993. Toni would also go on to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.
In a statement on Twitter, Morrison’s publisher Alfred A. Knopf acknowledged the tragic loss: “We are profoundly sad to report that Toni Morrison has died at the age of eighty-eight.” In the post, Knopf included a poignant quote from Toni’s speech when she received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993: “We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”
We’re keeping Toni Morrison’s friends and family in our thoughts and prayers during this tough time.