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Toni Morrison, Nobel prize-winning author, has died aged 88

Toni Morrison, Nobel prize-winning author, has died aged 88

Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize-winning author has passed away aged 88. Morrison's family confirmed she had died "following a short illness" in New York. 

In a statement her family said the "extremely devotred mother, grandmother and aunt" had "passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends". 

Morrison is best known for her 1970 debut The Bluest Eye, and her 1987 novel Beloved which was adapted into a feature film starring Oprah Winfrey. Her books brought the voices of black women to the forefront of literature in a time where such voices were not widely heard in mainstream literature. Professor Noliwe Rooks of Princeton University - where Morrison also taught - said of The Bluest Eye:

"At this moment when [The Bluest Eye] comes out - who's writing about black girls? Who's writing about this kind of trauma? Who's writing about the interior lives of someone like that? Who's writing about black communities.There was no one who was doing it the way she was, with the truth-telling and the ugliness, as well as the grandeur and the beauty".

She was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, with the Swedish Academy describing her as an author "who in novels characterised by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality". 

In 1967 she became the first female African-American editor for Random House, where she championed other writers of colour, publishing works by Gayl Jones, Muhammad Ali, Angela Davis and Henry Dumas, among others. She worked in this role until 1983. 

President Obama, who awarded Morrison the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, took to Twitter to pay his respects: