The Nobel Prize and Pulitzer winning author Toni Morrison has died at the age of 88.

Her publisher said she died on Monday night at Montefiore Medical Centre in New York, after a brief illness.

In a statement, her family said: “Toni Morrison passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends.

“She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt who revelled in being with her 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.”

Morrison was the first black woman to receive the Nobel Prize for literature – which she was awarded in 1993.

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

She was praised in 1993 by the Swedish academy for her “visionary force” and for her delving into “language itself, a language she wants to liberate” from categories of black and white.

The book was adapted into a film of the same name in 1998, which starred Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover.

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