Toni Morrison, the Nobel- and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer whose acclaimed titles included “The Bluest Eye,” “Beloved,” “Sula,” “Tar Baby” and a slew of children’s books, died Monday night at age 88.
As news of her death broke Tuesday, the literary giant and master of American letters was sorely missed as fans mourned the loss of her voice and celebrated her effect on American culture.
Politicians and authors, celebrities, social justice groups and casual readers shared quotes from the scribe, whose remarkable accomplishments included publishing her first book at age 39. Some described her as a “shining example to black women everywhere” and her death as “a devastating loss to the world of words.”
Here’s what fans and followers had to say on social media:
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In the beginning was the Word. Toni Morrison took the word and turned it into a Song…of Solomon, of Sula, Beloved, Mercy, Paradise Love, and more. She was our conscience. Our seer. Our truth-teller. She was a magician with language, who understood the Power of words. She used them to roil us, to wake us, to educate us and help us grapple with our deepest wounds and try to comprehend them. It is exhilarating and life-enhancing every time I read and share her work. This pic was her first appearance on the Oprah Show. She was Empress-Supreme among writers. Long may her WORDS reign!
Toni Morrison will always be one of the greatest of all times. A culture changer. A literary monarch. She was a force that made readers see life through her eyes...our eyes. Thank you God for her unapologetic style. She shared it with grace. Rest In Power💜— Regina King (@ReginaKing) August 6, 2019
“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” Toni Morrison. I’m deeply sadden to share that one of our greatest writers and minds in American History, Toni Morrison, passed away at the age of 88. May God Bless Her Soul. pic.twitter.com/Dq1UL4ENIY— COMMON (@common) August 6, 2019
Members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, mourn the loss of their beloved sorority member and multiple award winning author, Toni Morrison. February 15, 1931-August 5, 2019. Prayers go out to her family and friends. #AKA1908 pic.twitter.com/O266PPo26k— Alpha Kappa Alpha (@akasorority1908) August 6, 2019
In my interactions with Ms. Morrison at the Lorain Public Library and in New York, I found her kind and heroic. While it’s a tragedy that she has left this world, I am thankful that she was always brave enough to share her voice.— Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) August 6, 2019
We are all better because she lived. pic.twitter.com/veOAGKyiUn
"If there is a book that you want to read but it hasn't been written yet, you must be the one to write it," Toni Morrison said.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 6, 2019
We are all so lucky to live in a world where she took her own advice and shared it with others.
In the passing of Toni Morrison, we lost one of our greatest voices & storytellers. Holding close those touched by her being & her gift. Her work gave us power, hope & freedom. While our world shines a little less bright today, we know "something that is loved is never lost."— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 6, 2019
Toni Morrison was a world-class human being. Her words stirred our souls & challenged our consciences to confront injustice, large or small, wherever it exists. How blessed we are that she gave us her gifts. Hillary and I are grateful for her life and the kindness she showed us. pic.twitter.com/ZCSPFCma1F— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) August 6, 2019
“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) August 6, 2019
I cannot imagine growing up in a world without her words. I pray you rest In Peace and in Power.
We will celebrate you with endless gratitude and love. Always.
She made me understand“writer” was a fine profession. I grew up wanting to be only her. Dinner with her was a night I will never forget. Rest, Queen. “Toni Morrison, seminal author who stirringly chronicled the Black American experience, dies” https://t.co/S6qxix5OCj— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) August 6, 2019
Toni Morrison's powerful writing taught us all new ways to lead, new ways to fight, and reminds us of the humanity in others. As I think about her passing, her words fill me with hope. “Your life is already a miracle of chance waiting for you to shape its destiny.” https://t.co/5fFf7u5DeH— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 6, 2019
"You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down." — Toni Morrison— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) August 6, 2019
A lesson for each of us. A lesson for our country. She may be gone, but her writing, her resolve, and her grace will live on forever.
"I tell my students, 'When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else." - Toni Morrison— ACLU (@ACLU) August 6, 2019
Today we lost one of our most historic storytellers. Toni Morrison's work and legacy influenced an entire generation. Her commitment to centering Black women in her work and her continued activism for Black liberation was truly inspiring. #RestinPower pic.twitter.com/o460GZDOUF— ColorOfChange.org (@ColorOfChange) August 6, 2019
"Love is divine only and difficult always. If you think it is easy you are a fool. If you think it is natural you are blind. It is a learned application without reason or motive except that it is God."— Cave Canem (@cavecanempoets) August 6, 2019
- Toni Morrison (1931-2019) pic.twitter.com/XxvJVG2AgP
Today we remember Toni Morrison. From her first novel, "The Bluest Eye," Morrison wrote about the African American experience and issues of exclusion and belonging. She was the first black woman to become a Nobel laureate. 📸: Helen Marcus, @smithsoniannpg https://t.co/nrVW1hP6Dz pic.twitter.com/NoJsa0bZdp— Smithsonian (@smithsonian) August 6, 2019
"It has to be both: beautiful & political at the same time. I’m not interested in art that is not in the world. And it’s not just the narrative, it’s not just the story; it’s the language & the structure & what’s going on behind it."— Poets.org (@POETSorg) August 6, 2019
—Toni Morrison (1931–2019) pic.twitter.com/FEncMHvTX3
“Art invites us to know beauty and to solicit it, summon it, from even the most tragic of circumstances. Art reminds us that we belong here. And if we serve, we last.”— Tribeca (@Tribeca) August 6, 2019
Rest in power, Toni Morrison, a fearless genius whose words will continue to guide and inspire us. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/xlG9xQljUT
RIP Toni Morrison. This is a devastating loss to the world of words, to our understanding of power and it’s reach, to the cultivation of empathy, to rich, nuanced, elegant storytelling. Her work was a gift to every one who had the pleasure of reading her.— roxane gay (@rgay) August 6, 2019
The Bluest Eye— The Black Caucus (@TheBlackCaucus) August 6, 2019
Song of Solomon
These are just a few of Author and Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison's work.
She was a brilliant writer who shared heartbreaking and poignant stories about Blackness in America.
May her soul rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/0a999imo8j
Today, the world lost a storyteller of unmatched empathy, elegance and power. Toni Morrison’s belief that language is the “measure of our lives” leaves an extraordinary, inspiring inheritance, and her beautiful writing will continue to be a blessing for generations to come. pic.twitter.com/cc3st7x2lM— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) August 6, 2019
Toni Morrison was a towering intellect, a brilliant scribe of our nation’s complex stories, a heartbreaking journalist of our deepest desires, and a groundbreaking author who destroyed precepts, walls and those who dared underestimate her capacity. Rest well and in peace. pic.twitter.com/nMkxXRtEoz— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) August 6, 2019
Toni Morrison created timeless works of literature. But her voice also speaks directly to our time, when language is used to stoke hate and divide. Her life and work are a testament to the power of language to inspire, illuminate and unite. pic.twitter.com/9ZF37yNLZi— Arianna Huffington (@ariannahuff) August 6, 2019
There is a Toni Morrison documentary IN THEATERS RIGHT NOW called The Pieces I Am. Of course it’s not getting the publicity it should. But it’s a wonderful film filled with her telling her stories. Find it at the smaller cinema near you. pic.twitter.com/pF2xcS6s2w— April (@ReignOfApril) August 6, 2019
Our American story has lost a singular and courageous voice. Toni Morrison had to overcome the founding prejudices of her nation to claim a rightful place among the greats of American letters. The brilliance of her mind and spirit will live on in her words. May she rest in peace.— Dan Rather (@DanRather) August 6, 2019
Like honestly has there ever been a baddie as bad as Toni Morrison? A woman who published her first novel at 39 after waking up every morning at 4 to write before getting her kids to school and going to work editing books by white men then ended up winning the full NOBEL PRIZE???— Jeremy O. Harris (@jeremyoharris) August 6, 2019
Can we declare this the national day of Everyone Just Stop And Read Toni Morrison Together?— Kate Crawford (@katecrawford) August 6, 2019
Toni Morrison passed away. At 88 that’s a long and beautifully complex life, one that has contributed so much to the world.✍🏾📚🎙— 🆃🆁🆄🅳🆈 (@thetrudz) August 6, 2019
And yet seeing this news still made my chest get tight; still hurts. Her vision, her veracity and her voice made the world better. RIP.💛 pic.twitter.com/FviyFAl1X1
She wasn’t just the queen of American letters. She wrote America’s letters. And whether we realize it or not, all Americans and all writers are indebted to Toni Morrison. Sleep well. We are eternally grateful for you. We are eternally grateful for America’s letters. pic.twitter.com/rAf4c1JCEe— Ibram X. Kendi (@DrIbram) August 6, 2019
"It is not 'this is what I believe,' because that would not be a book, just a tract. A book is 'this may be what I believe, but suppose I am wrong...what could it be?'"— The Paris Review (@parisreview) August 6, 2019
R.I.P., Toni Morrison, 1931 - 2019. Read her complete 1993 Art of Fiction interview: https://t.co/9ra2gdJs5u pic.twitter.com/yvtJ5Ve41D
“Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.”— Tim Ryan (@TimRyan) August 6, 2019
― Toni Morrison