US author and Nobel Prize winner, Toni Morrison has died at the age of 88, after a brief illness.
A statement released by the Morrison family revealed that the author “passed away peacefully last night (5 August) surrounded by 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,” the statement read further.
“Although her passing represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long, well lived life.”
The family added: “While we would like to thank everyone who knew and loved her, personally or through her work, for their support at this difficult time, we ask for privacy as we mourn this loss to our family.
“We will share information in the near future about how we will celebrate Toni’s incredible life.”
Morrison was the first black woman to receive the Nobel literature prize awarded in 1993, having published her first novel, The Bluest Eye, in 1970.
One of her books, Beloved told the story of a female African-American slave won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988, and was made into a film starring Oprah Winfrey in 1998.
Over her six-decade career, she wrote 11 novels, five children’s books, two plays, a song cycle and an opera.