Presenter of the National Book Awards

National Book Awards Acceptance Speeches

Biography of Toni Morrison,
Winner of the 1996 DISTINGUISHED CONTRIBUTION TO AMERICAN LETTERS AWARD

From the 1996 National Book Awards Program

Toni Morrison, the recipient of the 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature, was appointed Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University in 1989. She is the author of six major novels -- The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Tar Baby, Beloved, and Jazz -- as well as books of essays, including Playing in the Dark. Song of Solomon won the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1977; Beloved won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988.

A graduate of Howard amd Cornell Universities, she has held teaching positions at Yale Univerity, Bard College and Rutgers University, and from 1984 until 1989 was the Albert Schweitzer Chair in the Humanities at the State Univeristity of New York at Albany. In 1988 she was the Obert C. Tanner Lecturer at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and the Jeannette K. Watson Distinguished Professor at Syracuse University. In 1990 she delivered the Clark lectures at Trinity College, Cambridge University, and the Massey Lectures at Harvard University. In 1994 she was the International Condorcet Chair at the Ecole Normale Superieure and College de France. She also served as a senior editor at Random House for 20 years.

A two-time Finalist for the National Book Award, Ms. Morrison has earned many other honors including the Rhegium Julii Prize for Literature, 1994; the Condorcet Medal, Paris, 1994; The Pearl Buck Award, 1994; Commander of the Arts and Letters, Paris 1993; the Modern Language Association of American Commonwealth Award in Literature, 1989; and the Anisfield Wolf Book Award in Race Relations, 1988.

A founding member of the Academie Universelle de Culture, and a member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she is also a Trustee of The New York Public Library, and a member of the Africa Watch and Helsinki Watch Committees on Human Rights.