NPR - August 6, 2019

Updated at 10:05 a.m. ET

When Toni Morrison received her Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, her remarks began with a reflection on the phrase once upon a time. In her signature, measured cadence, Morrison told the Swedish Academy she believed these were some of the first words we remember from our childhoods.

Morrison died Monday night at the age of 88 at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, according to her publisher, Penguin Random House. Morrison's family, in a statement released by the publisher, said she died "following a short illness" and surrounded by loved ones.

"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," her family said. "Although her passing represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long, well lived life."

Morrison's work focused on African-American life and culture, and she dominated an industry in which depictions of black life were often limited and rooted in stereotype. ...
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