PUL presents exhibition in honor of Toni Morrison at Firestone Library

Thursday, Aug 15, 2019

By Don Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts, with Stephanie Ramírez, Library Communications

“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” – Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)

As the world mourns the passing of Toni Morrison, Nobel Laureate in Literature and Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities, Emeritus, at Princeton University, Princeton University Library presents in her memory a selection of first editions, translations, corrected typescripts, and a handwritten first draft of her novels, on display in the Firestone Library lobby. On Monday, August 5, the internationally renowned writer passed away at age 88.

The exhibition is a tribute to her profound legacy and impact on writing, culture, and beyond. The materials on display are part of the Toni Morrison Papers, which are permanently housed in PUL’s Rare Books and Special Collections.

The Papers, which opened for research in 2016, are made up of more than 300 boxes of papers and thousands of digital files, including manuscripts, drafts, proofs, and related files pertaining to Morrison’s published novels on the African American experience. Her 11 novels, translated into more than 20 languages, are “The Bluest Eye” (1970), “Sula” (1973), “Song of Solomon” (1977), “Tar Baby” (1981), “Beloved” (1987), “Jazz” (1992), “Paradise” (1997), “Love” (2003), “A Mercy” (2008), and “Home” (2012). 

Also included in the Papers are similar materials for her play “Dreaming Emmett,” children’s books, short fiction, song lyrics, an opera libretto, lectures, and non-fiction writing as well as extensive literary and professional correspondence, fan mail, diaries and appointment books, photographs, audiobooks, video tapes, juvenilia, memorabilia, course materials, annotated student papers, academic office files, and press clippings. 

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