When talking about influential domestic contemporary women’s authors, it’s impossible not to include Toni Morrison on this list. An avid reader virtually since birth Toni Morrison was wrought from a time period in American History which was so delicate for a variety of reasons. Rather than succumb to these pressures, Morrison rose above them all and was able to support two children, hold down a prestigious faculty job, and write some of the best literature to come from that time period.
Toni Morrison was born Chloe Anthony Wofford in Lorain Ohio in 1931. The young Morrison was part of a working class family yet she quickly realized that the fastest way out of that trap was to excel academically. Though Morrison was always a gifted wordsmith, her first novel wasn’t published until 1970. She did spend a considerable period of time teaching before she was a published author. Morrison has an ear for dialogue; her brave portrayal of the life of the African-American struggle is well documented.
One of Morrison’s best works was her debut novel, The Bluest Eye. The novel told the story of an African American girl who wants to have blue eyes. Probably my favorite Toni Morrison novel has got to be Song of Solomon. Song of Solomon asks many questions about identity and a family lineage which can be traced back directly to slavery! The main character in Song of Solomon is named Macon Dead III and is probably just as confused as you as to why there was even a Macon Dead I, let alone a Macon Dead II. Macon also has another problem; oedipal maternal issues from his being breast fed too long by his mother lead to the nickname “Milkman.” That’s a tough one to live down and not all that much better than being Mr. Dead.
Toni Morrison has added much to the pantheon of contemporary American literature; her works are sure to be read for years to come. If there were any doubt about the longevity of Morrison’s work just look at Oprah’s Book Club list of necessary reads. Since 1981 Toni Morrison has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters; her awards are numerous and include a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for Beloved. Her work has been adapted for the screen and though she’s largely bowed out of popular culture she still does give the occasional lecture. Toni Morrison is a strong American woman who has achieved more than most of us could ever imagine. When considering women’s history month certainly consider revisiting or introducing yourself to the works of Toni Morrison.