Toni Morrison, the winner of the Nobel prize in Literature, the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and the American Book Award died on Monday night at the age of 88.
Her publisher, Alfred Knopf and her family member confirmed the death on Tuesday.
Morrison died at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, a spokeswoman for Knopf said in a statement. Cause of death was not specified.
The author’s family issued a statement through Princeton University where she had taught since 1989.
The statement reads: “It is with profound sadness we share that, following a short illness, our adored mother and grandmother, Toni Morrison, passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends.
“She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt who reveled in being with her family and friends. The consummate writer who treasured the written word, whether her own, her students or others, she read voraciously and was most at home when writing.Although her passing represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long, well lived life.
“While we would like to thank everyone who knew and loved her, personally or through her work, for their support at this difficult time, we ask for privacy as we mourn this loss to our family. We will share information in the near future about how we will celebrate Toni’s incredible life.”
Morrison was best known for her 1987 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Beloved,” which was later adapted into a film in 1998 starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover.
In 1993, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, becoming the first black woman to receive the honour.
In 2012, then-President Obama awarded Morrison the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award. At the ceremony at the White House, Obama lauded Morrison’s writing for “using a tone that is lyrical, precise, distinct, and inclusive.”
“Toni Morrison’s prose brings us that kind of moral and emotional intensity that few writers ever attempt,” Obama said.
Her 1970 novel “The Bluest Eye,” was banned in some schools in Oregon and Colorado for being “sexually explicit.” Several school districts also challenged, and some banned, her 1977 book “Song of Solomon.”
Prior to becoming a legendary author, Morrison blazed a trails at Random House from 1967 to 1983, becoming the first black woman editor at the storied publisher. In that role, she championed the work of many writers of color, publishing the work of black luminaries including Gayl Jones, Toni Cade Bambara, Henry Dumas, Huey P. Newton, Muhammad Ali and Angela Davis.
Morrison also held teaching positions at Yale, Bard College, Rutgers and the State University of New York at Albany.
Morrison was born on Febuary 18, 1931. She had two sons, Harold and Slade, with ex-husband Harold Morrison, whom she divorced in 1964.