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Toni Morrison Exhibit at Princeton Honors a Lifetime of Work, Down to Her Post-Its


Toni Morrison poses for a publicity photo for her novel JazzImage courtesy of Toni Morrison Papers/special collections at Princeton University Library; photo by Brandon Johnson

Toni Morrison once told a reporter, “If you find a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

As the exhibition “Toni Morrison: Sites of Memory,” at Princeton University Library’s Milberg Gallery, which runs from now until June 4, demonstrates, that means writing on sticky notes if you have to.

Thirty years after Morrison received the Nobel Prize for Literature, the exhibit is being held to honor a lifetime of literary work, as well as her 17 years teaching at Princeton.

Morrison, who died in 2019, is among the university’s most famous professors.

In 2014, eight years after she left the lecture halls, she gave its library 400 boxes of material.

In those boxes were typewritten manuscript pages from books including “Jazz,” legal pads covered in the Pulitzer Prize-winner’s handwriting, outlines, exchanges with editors about drafts of her novels, datebooks and, yes, Post-its that she scrawled on when she had only moments to get down a thought.

When her first novel, The Bluest Eye,…

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