Toni Morrison, author and Nobel laureate, dies at 88

What you need to know: Toni Morrison

Author, Nobel Prize laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Toni Morrison died Monday, according to a statement from her publisher, Alfred A. Knopf. She was 88.

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NPR reported Morrison died Monday night at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. Family members said in a statement released by Knopf that she died peacefully while surrounded by family and friends following a brief illness.

“She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt who reveled in being with her family and friends," the statement said. "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.”

Morrison helped raise American multiculturalism to the world stage and helped uncensor her country’s past, unearthing the lives of the unknown and the unwanted, those she would call “the unfree at the heart of the democratic experiment.”

Morrison was "an African American woman giving voice to essentially silent stories," Elizabeth Beaulieu, editor of "The Toni Morrison Encyclopedia" and a dean at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, told The Washington Post. "She is writing the African American story for American history."

Morrison was born Chloe Anthony Wofford on Feb. 18, 1931 in Lorain, Ohio, according to Nobel Lectures. She was the second of four children.

In 1993, she became the first black woman to receive the Nobel literature prize for her body of work. The Swedish Academy hailed her use of language and her “visionary force.”

Her novel “Beloved,” in which a mother makes a tragic choice to murder her baby to save the girl from slavery, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988.

Friends and fans took to social media to remember Morrison:

The Associated Press contributed to this report.