Author Toni Morrison Named Recipient of Presidential Medal

Toni Morrison. Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.

Author Toni Morrison has been named a 2012 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

The award, the highest civilian award in the United States, was given to 13 people this year who have made “especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” according to the White House.

The awards, which were inaugurated in 1945, will be presented at a White House ceremony later this spring.

Morrison is the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities Emeritus at Princeton University. The author of nine novels  including “Beloved,” which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988, Morrison became the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize in literature in 1993.

She came to Princeton in 1989 to teach literature and writing, was a member of the school’s creative writing program and founded the Princeton Atelier, a program that brings renowned artists to the campus to work with students on original exhibitions and productions. She retired from the university in 2006 but still is active writing. Her upcoming novel, “Home,” will be published in early May.

Before joining the Princeton faculty, Morrison served as a senior editor at Random House for 20 years. She has held teaching posts at Yale University, Bard College and Rutgers University.

Other recipients of the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom include Madeleine Albright, Bob Dylan, Pat Summit and John Glenn. For a full list of recipients and their accomplishments visit the White House website.

An earlier edition of this story incorrectly stated that Morrison was the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature since 1938. Nadine Gordimer won the prize in 1991 and several other women won the prize between 1938 and Morrison’s accomplishment. Planet Princeton regrets the error.