Celebrating creative black trailblazers for #BHM; meet…
Name: Toni Morrison
Born: 18th Feb 1931, Ohio (USA)
Creative Discipline: Writer/Novelist
Known for: Toni’s novels can be recognised for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters. Among her best known novels are The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon and Beloved. She won the Nobel Prize in 1993 and in 1987 the Pulitzer Prize for Beloved
As a child, Morrison read fervently; among her favorite authors were Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy. Morrison's father told her numerous folktales of the black community (a method of storytelling that would later work its way into Morrison's writings).
Morrison began writing fiction as part of an informal group of poets and writers at Howard who met to discuss their work. She went to one meeting with a short story about a black girl who longed to have blue eyes. She later developed the story as her first novel, The Bluest Eye (1970). She wrote it while raising two children and teaching at Howard. In 2000 it was chosen as a selection for Oprah's Book Club.
In 1975 her novel Sula (1973) was nominated for the National Book Award. My year 10 English teacher handed me a copy of this book when I was in the midst of a teenage identity crisis. It was a read that both ignited my interest in literature, and in the power of rewriting rules of social convention in favour of community. If you are in need of inspiration, please read this book.
Although her novels typically concentrate on black women, Morrison does not identify her works as feminist. She has stated that she thinks "it's off-putting to some readers, who may feel that I'm involved in writing some kind of feminist tract. I don't subscribe to patriarchy, and I don't think it should be substituted with matriarchy. I think it's a question of equitable access, and opening doors to all sorts of things.”
This year, she won The Presidential Medal of Freedom. It’s the highest civilian award in the United States. It recognizes those individuals who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavours".
Article by Lucy G / 1st October 2012
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