Having previously read Beloved, and now reading A Mercy, I found myself curious about some more of Toni Morrison’s background. In particular, I was curious about where the inspiration for her books came from, considering both had a similar context and themes. Interestingly, I found out that Morrison was born in Ohio and attended an integrated school. She graduated school with honors, attended Howard University, and then continued her studies at Cornell. I think some of her inspiration came from her parents. Both of them worked many jobs to support four children. Seeing that racism and discrimination against blacks are two of the most obvious ideas in her books (that I have read), I was expecting to have read something about her personally experiencing discrimination or one major life event that affected her in a negative way. I was very struck by the fact that she seemed to have a childhood without experiences of much discrimination and racism while in school, according to this short biography.
Given the detailed nature of her texts, I was surprised that she didn’t appear to have a personal life experience to draw from. It was stated in the biography, that her parents moved to Ohio to escape the discrimination that they faced in the South. I think that Morrison could have been influenced by her parents’ experiences more so than herself, but without any more in depth research, I am only speculating. Her many years in school probably also helped her to write the texts with accurate historical context and descriptive vocabulary.
I’m curious if maybe someone else has some prior biographical knowledge of Toni Morrison, or even just has an idea: what inspired her to write her novels with these characters and settings?