Toni Morrison

Start Your Free Trial

Download Toni Morrison Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Introduction

(Literary Masters)

Toni Morrison

See also Toni Morrison Criticism (Volume 4), and Volumes 10, 22, 194.

Chronology

1931: Chloe Anthony Wofford (Toni Morrison) is born on 18 February in Lorain, Ohio, the second of four children of George Wofford, a shipyard welder, and Ramah Willis Wofford.
1949: Morrison graduates with honors from Lorain High School. She enrolls at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
1953: Morrison graduates from Howard University with a B.A. in English and a minor in Classics. She begins graduate study at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
1955: Morrison receives an M.A. in English literature from Cornell University. She begins teaching at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas.
1957: Morrison leaves Texas Southern. She joins the faculty at Howard University.
1958: Morrison marries Harold Morrison, a Jamaican architect.
1961: Morrison gives birth to her first son, Harold Ford.
1962: Morrison joins a writer’s group. She writes a short story that she later develops into the novel titled The Bluest Eye (1970).
1964: Morrison visits Paris. She and Harold Morrison are divorced. She returns to Lorain, Ohio, where her son Slade is born. Morrison leaves Howard.
1965: Morrison leaves Ohio with her children for Syracuse, New York, to take a job as an assistant editor with a textbook subsidiary of Random House. While there, she works on The Bluest Eye.
1967: Morrison transfers to the trade-book division of Random House in New York City. Over the course of her twenty-year career as an editor for Random House, she works with many African American writers, including Leon Forrest, Gayl Jones, Toni Cade Bambara, Angela Davis, and Henry Dumas.
1970: Morrison’s first novel, The Bluest Eye, is published.
1971: Morrison teaches English for a year at the State University of New York at Purchase while continuing to work at Random House.
1973: Sula is published.
1974: Morrison edits The Black Book.
1975: Sula is nominated for the National Book Award in fiction.
1976: Morrison spends a year at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, as a visiting lecturer.
1977: Song of Solomon is published and is a Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. It wins the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction.
1980: Morrison is named Distinguished Writer by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is appointed to the National Council on the Arts by President Jimmy Carter.
1981: Tar Baby is published; Morrison is featured on the cover of Newsweek magazine. She is elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the Writers Guild, and the Authors’ League.
1984: Morrison leaves Random House. She is named Albert Schweitzer Professor of the Humanities at the State University of New York at Albany.
1986: Morrison’s first play, Dreaming Emmett, is performed on 4 January by the Capital Repertory Theater of Albany at the Marketplace Theater in Albany, New York. Morrison becomes a visiting lecturer at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.
1987: Beloved is published. Morrison is appointed to the Helsinki Watch Committee and to the Board of Trustees of the New York Public Library. She chairs the New York State Education Department’s Committee on Adult Literacy and is Regents Lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley.
1988: Beloved wins the Pulitzer Prize in fiction, the Robert E Kennedy Book Award, and the Melcher Book Award. Morrison’s visiting lectureship at Bard College ends.
1989: Morrison is named Robert E Goheen Professor in the Council of Humanities at Princeton University, thus becoming the first African American woman to hold a named chair at an Ivy League university. She receives the Modern Language Association of America Commonwealth Award in literature and the Chianti Ruffino Antico Fattore International Award in literature.
1992: Jazz is published and makes The New York Times best-seller list; Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination, a collection of Morrison’s essays, is published. Morrison edits Race-ing Justice, En-Gendering Power: Essays on...

(The entire section is 51,209 words.)