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Toni Morrison: Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize Winner

Updated on July 1, 2014
Heidi Vincent profile image

Ms. Vincent is an M.B.A graduate, Business Consultant and health, wellness & natural healing enthusiast, who reads a lot on those subjects.

Meet Toni Morrison: Writer Extraordinaire

Born in Lorain (Ohio) in 1931, Professor Emeritus Toni Morrison is an acclaimed, black, fiction writer who is considered one of the most influential writers in American literary history.

She was an avid reader from childhood and her favourite authors were Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy.

In 1953, Morrison earned a B.A. in English from Howard University and a Master of Arts degree in English from Cornell University in 1955.

During her professional career, she lectured at Texas Southern University, Howard University, Yale, and in 1989 she received a professorship at Princeton University.

She had a son, Slade Morrison, who was a painter and musician but who, unfortunately, died on December 22, 2010 at the age of 45.

In the last 44 years, between 1970 and 2014, Toni Morrison has published 10 bestsellers, which have been described as having "epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters". These I will share with you in summary in this lens (article) along with some video clips. Enjoy!

Photo credit: www.afrobella.com

Toni Morrison's BELOVED

A story filled with drama and suspense!

BOOK versus MOVIE! - Beloved (1987; ISBN 1-4000-3341-1)

Beloved (Everyman's Library)
Beloved (Everyman's Library)

Toni Morrison received two (2) awards in 1988 for this novel - a Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award.

What makes this story so intriguing is that it is based on the TRUE STORY of an African-American slave, Margaret Garner, who temporarily escaped slavery in 1856 in Kentucky by fleeing to the state of Ohio but was hunted down by her slave owners who used the ' Fugitive Slave Act of 1850' as the authority for their actions.

In the novel story, the protagonist, Sethe, is befriended by a young woman 'Beloved' who is overly demanding and who the village believes to eb the ghost of her 2-year old daughter whom she killed.

See if and how Sethe frees herself of this ghost.

 
Beloved
Beloved

BELOVED was also adapted into a film in 1998 film.

In a surprising and painfully difficult move, Sethe, the protagonist who plays the real life Margaret Garner, kills her 2-year old daughter rather than have her grow up as a slave.

Get the MOVIE, starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover!

 

Beauty and what it means to be beautiful discussed.

The Bluest Eye (1970; ISBN 0-452-28706-5)

The Bluest Eye (Vintage International)
The Bluest Eye (Vintage International)

This was her 1st novel and in 2000 it was chosen as one of the latest literary standouts for Oprah's Book Club.

 

Sula (1974; ISBN 1-4000-3343-8)

Sula
Sula

This book was nominated for the National Book Award in 1975.

 

Song of Solomon (1977; ISBN 1-4000-3342-X)

Song of Solomon
Song of Solomon

She won the 1978 National Book Critics Circle Award for this book. It was also a main selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club.

 

Some of Toni Morrison's MANY Awards!

Morrison debuted as a novelist in 1970 and has since been awarded a number of literary distinctions, including the following:

1. National Book Critics Circle Award (1978): An award which is given each March, by the National Book Critics Circle, to honour "the best literature published in the United States in six categories-autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry".

2. Pulitzer Prize (1988): This is a U.S. award, which was established in 1917 by provisions in the will of American (Hungarian-born) publisher Joseph Pulitzer. Prizes are awarded yearly in twenty-one categories. Her 1987 novel, "Beloved", earned her this award.

3. Nobel Prize in Literature (1993): Morrison is 1 of 12 women to have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature by the Swedish Academy, Stockholm, Sweden since it was first awarded in 1901 and the 1st African American since 1938.

4. Jefferson Lecture (1996): The U.S. Federal Government's highest honour for achievement in the humanities.

5. National Humanities Medal (December 20, 2000): "Recipients [of this award] are distinguished individuals who have set the highest standards for American cultural achievement (National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH))." Morrison received her award from President Clinton "in recognition of her contributions to American cultural life and thought."

6. Presidential Medal of Freedom (May 29, 2012): The highest civilian award in the United States which is conferred by the President of the United States and recognizes those individuals who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors".

7. Nichols-Chancellor's Medal (May 2013): An annual award given to persons, chosen by Vanderbilt University's Chancellor, who "define the 21st century and exemplify the best qualities of the human spirit."

Tar Baby (1981; ISBN 1-4000-3344-6)

Tar Baby
Tar Baby

Tells the story of a love affair between two Black Americans who were raised in very different worlds.

 

Jazz (1992; ISBN 1-4000-7621-8)

Jazz
Jazz

Set in the 1920s, this novel explores the pasts of six (6) characters in a separate way but pulled together in a jazzy sort of way.

 

Paradise (1997; ISBN 0-679-43374-0)

Paradise (Oprah's Book Club)
Paradise (Oprah's Book Club)

Hidden themes of anger, cruelty, and divisions are unearthed below a town's placid surface.

 

Morrison explores some of the characters in her novel 'LOVE'.

Love (2003; ISBN 0-375-40944-0)

Love: A Novel
Love: A Novel

Tells the story of a hotel owner, who, even in death holds some power over the lives of the people who crossed his path while he was alive.

 

A Mercy (2008; ISBN 978-0-307-26423-7)

A Mercy
A Mercy

After a break of approximately five (5) years Morrison published this 9th novel.

 

Home (2012; ISBN-13: 9780307594167)

Home
Home

This is her latest novel (2012). She read excerpts from it at a public reading on October 2, 2012 in Princeton University’s Alexander Hall, Richardson Auditorium.

 

An Evening with Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison's 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature citation reads:

"[Toni Morrison] who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality."

For the best product reviews, delicious recipes, winning gift ideas as well as uplifting Catholic & Christian content, visit FreshStart7 or the Catholic Contributor

What's Your Favourite Toni Morrison Book? Have You Been to Any of Her Public Readings or Lectures?

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    • Heidi Vincent profile image
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      Heidi Vincent 3 years ago from GRENADA

      @travelibrary: Thanks for visiting and sharing another great Nobel Prize winner. Have a blessed week.

    • profile image

      travelibrary 3 years ago

      "Long Walk to Freedom" was written by Nelson Mandela who is also a Nobel prize winner in peace. The book is basically his autobiography. I've came to know a lot of things about this person through internet.

    • Heidi Vincent profile image
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      Heidi Vincent 3 years ago from GRENADA

      @travelibrary: Yes travelibrary. That is another good book by a Nobel Prize winner, Thanks for visiting & have a blessed weekend.

    • profile image

      travelibrary 3 years ago

      "Long Walk to Freedom" was written by Nelson Mandela who is also a Nobel prize winner in peace. The book is basically his autobiography. I've came to know a lot of things about this person through internet.

    • Heidi Vincent profile image
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      Heidi Vincent 5 years ago from GRENADA

      @anonymous: Thanks for visiting VictoriaCoffey

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Lovable Toni! :)

    • Heidi Vincent profile image
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      Heidi Vincent 5 years ago from GRENADA

      @Totus Mundus: Thanks TotusMundus for visiting and sharing about one of your favourite Toni Morrison books. Have a blessed week.

    • Heidi Vincent profile image
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      Heidi Vincent 5 years ago from GRENADA

      @AlexBPearl: You're welcome AlexBPearl. Thanks for visiting and have a blessed week.

    • Totus Mundus profile image

      Totus Mundus 5 years ago

      One of my favorite authors, Toni Morrison is very inspirational. Never seen her 'live', but I found Song of Solomon very touching.

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      AlexBPearl 5 years ago

      Many thanks for opening my eyes to the work of Toni Morrison. she's now on my reading list. excellent lens. Best, AP

    • Heidi Vincent profile image
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      Heidi Vincent 5 years ago from GRENADA

      @ecogranny: You're welcome Graceonline. Thanks for visiting and sharing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I would like to read one of her novels but I want to do it when I have time to reread and reflect. Interesting lens.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I cannot pick a favorite, and I have never heard her speak in person, but I have watched her on a few shows. Thank you for showcasing the work of this important writer.

    • Heidi Vincent profile image
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      Heidi Vincent 5 years ago from GRENADA

      @Nanciajohnson: Indeed a wonderful author LilMonkey. I hope you have an opportunity to meet her.

    • Heidi Vincent profile image
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      Heidi Vincent 5 years ago from GRENADA

      @sojourner-1: Thanks for the visit and comment sojourner-1

    • Heidi Vincent profile image
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      Heidi Vincent 5 years ago from GRENADA

      @BestRatedStuff: Thanks TheTravelGal! I appreciate your visit and comment.

    • Heidi Vincent profile image
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      Heidi Vincent 5 years ago from GRENADA

      @texan203 lm: You're welcome texan203! Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    • Heidi Vincent profile image
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      Heidi Vincent 5 years ago from GRENADA

      @kislanyk: Thanks marciag for visiting and commenting.

    • Nanciajohnson profile image

      Nancy Johnson 5 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

      A wonderful author and person. I have not met her, but would like to.

    • profile image

      sojourner-1 5 years ago

      Such a great author--and I really like to audio books.

    • BestRatedStuff profile image

      BestRatedStuff 5 years ago

      Great lens about an awesome writer.

    • texan203 lm profile image

      texan203 lm 5 years ago

      Great lens,thanks

    • kislanyk profile image

      Marika 5 years ago from Cyprus

      Great writer, she has written some awesome book.

    • dlobel profile image

      Debra Lobel 5 years ago from Oakland, CA

      Beloved us my favorite Toni Morrison book.

    • Heidi Vincent profile image
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      Heidi Vincent 5 years ago from GRENADA

      @Linda BookLady: Thanks for visiting LindaJM ! I am glad you learned about Toni Morrison. My favourites are Song of Solomon and Tar Baby. Have a wonderful weekend.

    • Linda BookLady profile image

      Linda Jo Martin 5 years ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA

      Thanks for letting us know about Toni Morrison. I haven't read her novels... which is your favorite? I now know a lot more about her than I did before.

    • Heidi Vincent profile image
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      Heidi Vincent 5 years ago from GRENADA

      @bushaex: That's right bushaex! Looks like she has received them all. Thanks for visiting.

    • bushaex profile image

      Stephen Bush 5 years ago from Ohio

      I'm not sure there are any literary awards left that she has not received. SquidAngel Blessings.

    • Heidi Vincent profile image
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      Heidi Vincent 5 years ago from GRENADA

      @WriterJanis2: Indeed WriterJanis! Thanks for visiting.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      She really has achieved so much.

    • Heidi Vincent profile image
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      Heidi Vincent 5 years ago from GRENADA

      @Diana Wenzel: You're welcome RenaissanceWoman2010. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      Thanks for featuring a literary giant. I'm going to go take a look at her most recent book.

    • Heidi Vincent profile image
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      Heidi Vincent 5 years ago from GRENADA

      @Camden1: What are you waiting for Camden? :) Thanks for another visit. Have a blessed weekend.

    • Heidi Vincent profile image
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      Heidi Vincent 5 years ago from GRENADA

      @TolovajWordsmith: You're welcome Tolovaj. Glad you have once again placed Toni Morrison on the front burner. Thanks for visiting and commenting. Have a great week ahead.

    • Camden1 profile image

      Camden1 5 years ago

      I'm ashamed to say that I haven't read any of Toni Morrison's books - I need to!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 5 years ago from Ljubljana

      I haven't read anything by Toni Morrison yet, but she is on my list for some time now. Thanks for reminding me of these superb author!