Toni Morrison was an American novelist, professor, and essay writer. She published her first novel The Bluest Eye in 1970, but her most well-known work is Beloved, published in 1987. This novel gave her the recognition to go on to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993. Morrison was the first black female editor of fiction for Random House NYC. She carries a string of honours and rewards for her work across the last half-century.
Check out Toni Morrison’s 1993 Nobel Prize speech here: https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1993/morrison/lecture/
Morrison’s parents raised her to be aware of her heritage and the rich cultural influence with which it comes. They shared African-American folktales and songs and read to her frequently. This fostered a love of words and an understanding of their importance.
Fans of Morrison will be able to trace her influences back through her works, as they are often written with a dream-like narrative. Free-flowing structure and gothic, folkloric themes feature often in her novels.
Why she inspires us
Morrison has made it clear that she is writing as a black woman, for black women. She isn’t attempting to educate or create experiences beyond what she understands. She simply used her writing talent to connect to women like her. Women of colour who are oppressed in their own country and consistently have their own voices silenced.
Morrison’s writing contests the political narrative, it challenges opinions and offers a truth not untold, but so often unheard. She refused to shrink herself down or minimise who she was. Morrison stood firm as a black person, and as a woman, and as a writer. A positive intertwining that solidified her greatness and paved the way for so many new writers, inspired and propelled by the incredible example she set.
Check out our selection of books by BAME Writers and discover your own Toni Morrison favourite.
Have you read Beloved or any of Morrison’s other works? What do you think of her writing style? Let us know in the comments below.