Toni Morrison was born Chloe Anthony Wofford in Lorain, Ohio, where she was the only African American student in her first grade class. She attended Howard University (B.A.) and Cornell University (M.A.). After college, where she changed her first name to Toni, Toni Morrison taught at Texas Southern University, Howard University, State University of New York at Albany and at Princeton. Her students at Howard included Stokely Carmichael (of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, SNCC) and Claude Brown (author of Manchild in the Promised Land, 1965).
Morrison's first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970. It told the story of a young African-American girl who believes her incredibly difficult life would be better if only she had blue eyes. Morrison continued to explore the African-American experience in its many forms and time periods in her work. Her next novel,Sula (1973), was nominated for the American Book Award. As an editor, Morrison played a vital role in bringing black literature into the mainstream, editing books by authors such as Henry Dumas, Toni Cade Bambara, Angela Davis and Gayl Jones.
Her eight major novels, The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, Beloved, Jazz, Paradise and Love 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. Both novels were chosen as the main selections for the Book of the Month Club in 1977 and 1987 respectively. 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. Ms. Morrison co-authored the children's books Remember, the Who's Got Game? Series , The Book of Mean People and The Big Box. Her books of essays include Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination; the edited collection Racing Justice, En-Gendering Power: Essays on Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas, and the Construction of Social Reality.