The papers of renowned writer and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison have become part of the permanent collection of the library collections of Princeton University, where she was a professor for 17 years.
Among the papers are research notes, letters, photographs, and manuscripts and drafts of novels including The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved. Morrison received a Pulitzer Prize for Beloved in 1988 and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Song of Solomon in 1977. In 1993, the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Morrison, "who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality." She was the first black woman to receive the prize.
The papers total about 180 linear feet of materials, the university said in the news release Friday afternoon announcing the collection.
Christopher L. Eisgruber, the president of Princeton, announced the news Friday at a conference, "Coming Back: Reconnecting Princeton's Black Alumni." The conference included a tribute to Morrison's legacy; after Eisgruber's announcement, Morrison, 83, had an on-stage interview with Claudia Brodsky, a professor of comparative literature at the university.
"This extraordinary resource will provide scholars and students with unprecedented insights into Professor Morrison's remarkable life and her magnificent, influential literary works," Eisgruber said. "We at Princeton are fortunate that Professor Morrison brought her brilliant talents as a writer and teacher to our campus 25 years ago, and we are deeply honored to house her papers and to help preserve her inspiring legacy."
Morrison, the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities Emeritus, joined Princeton in 1989 and was on the faculty of its creative writing program until her retirement in 2006. Princeton awarded her an honorary doctoral degree in 2013.
Her work will be housed in Harvey S. Firestone Memorial Library, the main library on campus, as a core part of the library system's manuscripts collection, the university said.
The collection began with materials that the preservation office recovered after a 1993 fire at Morrison's home in Grandview, New York, the school said. Other papers were added over time from other sources, resulting in a compilation of manuscripts, drafts, and proofs of all of Morrison's novels. Printed editions of all her publications are also included in the collection, and other papers, the school said, include "materials for Morrison's children's literature, lyrics, lectures, nonfiction writing, a play, correspondence, diaries, photographs, course materials, videotapes and more."