Discipline: Literature – fiction

Toni Morrison

Discipline: Literature – fiction
Region: Princeton, NJ

Edward MacDowell Medalist: 2016

Toni Morrison (1931-2019) was the Robert F. Goheen Professor Emerita in the Humanities at Princeton University. Her 11 major novels, The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, Beloved, Jazz, Paradise, Love, A Mercy, Home, and God Help the Child have received extensive critical acclaim. She received the National Book Critics Award in 1978 for Song of Solomon and the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Beloved. In 2006 Beloved was chosen by the New York Times Book Review as the best work of American fiction published in the last quarter-century. The author has written lyrics “Honey and Rue,” commissioned by Carnegie Hall for Kathleen Battle, with music by André Previn, premiered January 1992; “Four Songs” with music by Previn, premiered by Sylvia McNair at Carnegie Hall, November 1994; “Sweet Talk” written for Jessye Norman with music by Richard Danielpour, premiered April 1997; “Woman.Life.Song” commissioned by Carnegie Hall for Jessye Norman with music by Judith Weir, premiered April 2000; libretto for the opera “Margaret Garner” with music by Danielpour, premiered in May 2005; and the script for Desdemona, directed by Peter Sellars with music by Rokia Traoré, which premiered in 2010.

In fall 2006 Ms. Morrison was the guest curator at the Musée du Louvre in its "Grand Invité" program where she curated a month-long series of events across the arts on the theme of "The Foreigner's Home." In 1994 Ms. Morrison founded the Princeton Atelier, a program that brings professional artists to the Princeton University campus for intensive collaborative work with students and faculty. She has received the Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, the Commandeur Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and National Humanities Medal among others. In 1993 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Read Ms. Morrison's 2016 Edward MacDowell Medal acceptance speech.

Portrait by Michael Lionstar