Morrison, who made history as the first Black woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, died at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, a spokesperson for Knopf said in a statement.
People began responding to the news of the “Beloved” author’s death by celebrating her life and legacy on social media.
Born Chloe Ardelia Wofford in Lorain, Ohio, on Feb. 18, 1931, Morrison created complex works that transformed American literature and the way that Black characters, Black identity and Black American history were depicted in novels.
Television writer and producer Shonda Rhimes said that Morrison made her realize that being a writer was “a fine profession.”
“I grew up wanting to be only her,” Rhimes continued on Twitter. “Dinner with her was a night I will never forget. Rest, Queen.”
Stacey Abrams, the former Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Georgia, called Morrison a “towering intellect,” among other praise.
“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,” Abrams wrote.
Former President Barack Obama called Morrison “a national treasure” in a Facebook post.
Oprah Winfrey said in an Instagram post that Morrison was “a magician with language, who understood the Power of words.” The media mogul starred alongside Danny Glover in the acclaimed 1998 film adaptation of “Beloved.”
Morrison, author of a number of esteemed novels, including “Sula,” “The Bluest Eye” and “Song of Solomon,” worked as an editor at Random House for nearly two decades. She published the biographies of other influential Black figures, including Angela Davis and Muhammad Ali. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for “Beloved.”
A Howard University graduate, Morrison went on to earn a master’s degree at Cornell University in 1955. She had two sons, Harold and Slade, with her former husband, architect Harold Morrison.
Read other tributes to Morrison from elected officials, celebrities and fans below:
This post has been updated to include a statement from Oprah Winfrey.