Writers and readers alike joined in mourning the passing of the legendary Toni Morrison. The Lorain, Ohio native broke gender and racial barriers while also penning exceptional tales depicting the Black experience in America with unflinching detail..

Born Chloe Wofford in 1931, Morrison’s pen name was inspired by her baptismal name of Anthony when she joined the Catholic Church at 12. A stellar high school student, she entered Howard University, leaving the institution with a bachelor’s in English in 1953 and then earned a master’s at Cornell University in 1955. Morrison took a job as a professor at Texas Southern University teaching for several years at Howard before becoming Random House’s first Black woman senior editor of its fiction department.

Morrison released her first novel, The Bluest Eye, in 1970 but it wasn’t met with wide acclaim until later in her career. She followed her debut with 1973’s Sula and 1977’s Song Of Solomon – the book that brought Morrison international fame becoming the first book by a Black author since Richard Wright’s Native Son to be named a Book Of The Month Club selection.’

In 1988, Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for Beloved, the first of a celebrated trilogy that spawned the 1998 film of the same name starring Oprah Winfrey. In 1993, Morrison became the first Black woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. She has received a countless number of awards, including the National Humanities Award in 2000.

Morrison’s final work, The Source of Self-Regard is a collection of essays and other writings released earlier this year.

Toni Morrison was 88.

PHOTO: AP

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