American author Toni Morrison has died at the age of 88.
Toni, who wrote 11 novels, won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1993 for her first published novel, The Bluest Eye, in 1970. Her book, Beloved, which tells the story of a runaway slave, was made into a movie starring Oprah Winfrey in 1998.
The Nobel Laureate passed away on Monday night at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York, with the news subsequently confirmed to PEOPLE by her publisher Knopf on Tuesday.
“We are profoundly sad to report that Toni Morrison has died at the age of eighty-eight,” the statement reads.
“Morrison’s novels were celebrated and embraced by booksellers, critics, educators, readers, and librarians. Her work also ignited controversy, notably in school districts that tried to ban her books. Few American writers won more awards for their books and writing.”
Morrison's family has also released a statement.
“It is with profound sadness we share that, following a short illness, our adored mother and grandmother, Toni Morrison, passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends," it reads. "She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt who reveled 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. Although her passing represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long, well lived life.”
“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.”
The author was born Chloe Ardelia Wofford and was best known for Beloved which also won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988. Other novels such as Song of Solomon, Sula, and Jazz also earned major praise.
Morrison was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barrack Obama in 2012. She is also the first black woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature.