Toni Morrison was born in 1931 in Ohio. She grew up the second of four children in a working class family. She attended Howard University, graduating with a B.A. in Literature in 1953, then taking her M.A. from Cornell in 1955.
After she left school, Morrison became an English professor at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, then returned to Howard to teach. She married in 1958, had two children, then divorced in 1964. After the divorce, Morrison and her children moved to New York, where she became an editor at Random House.
In her role as editor at Random House, Morrison was instrumental in bringing the work of black authors, particularly women, into the main stream. She also began to teach at the State University of New York. In 1989, she also became an endowed professor at Princeton, a position she held until 2006.
Morrison published her first novel, The Bluest Eye, in 1970. She followed it will many seven novels, some non-fiction works, and most recently several children's books. She is also on the editorial board of The Nation magazine. In 1988, she won a Pulitzer Prize for her novel, Beloved. In 1993, she received the Nobel Prize for Literature.