27 Morrison Court Essay

Extraterritoriality for Securities Fraud Post-Morrison
John Koury


In 2010, the Supreme Court decided Morrison v. National Australia Bank Ltd., which addressed the extraterritorial application of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. In the late 1960s, the Second Circuit developed a set of tests allowing the extraterritorial enforcement of § 10b. In Morrison, the Supreme Court overturned the Second Circuit’s precedents and established a new test. This essay will look at the history, current trends, and possible future developments with respect to extraterritoriality of securities enforcement.

I. Extraterritoriality in Pre-Morrison Era

During the pre-Morrison era, Schoenbaum and Leasco, both Second Circuit decisions, governed extraterritorial application of § 10b. In Schoenbaum, the underlying conduct involved a Canadian corporation’s sale of treasury shares in Canada. At the time of the sale, the Canadian corporation had publicly traded shares on the American stock market. The Second Circuit concluded that because the sale affected the common shares on the American stock market, the Exchange Act of 1934 had extraterritorial jurisdiction over conduct in Canada in order to “protect American investors.”

In Leasco, the underlying conduct involved the purchase of an English corporation’s securities in England. Unlike Schoenbaum, the English corporation had no securities on American markets. The company that purchased the securities was American and some of the English corporation’s fraudulent conduct occurred in the United States. The Second Circuit concluded that the Exchange Act could be read to have extraterritorial jurisdiction over the transaction in England because Congress had prescriptive jurisdiction to regulate the underlying conduct. The court reasoned that if the 1934 Congress had been presented with the facts in Leasco, the legislature would have wanted § 10b to apply.

In the thirty years following Schoenbaum and Leasco, the Second Circuit used the principles of these cases to create a two-part disjunctive test. The first part, the “effects test,” determined “whether the wrongful conduct had substantial effect in the United States or upon United States citizens.” The second part, the “conduct test,” determined whether the “wrongful conduct occurred in the United States.” The result was a flexible test, which gave the Exchange Act extraterritorial reach for a § 10b violation that affected American interests. The test allowed the courts to reach fraudulent securities transactions by foreign companies in foreign markets when American investors were harmed.

The approach adopted by the Second Circuit was met with considerable criticism because its test led to an “assumption-driven analysis” due to the lack of any bright line rules. As a result, judges made case-by-case determinations, leaving foreign markets in the dark. Other critics, attacking the original reasoning in Schoenbaum, claimed that Congress either rejected extraterritorial application or that congressional silence did not give the Second Circuit license to create a judge-made rule. This criticism came primarily from outside the judicial system as the circuit courts tended to accept the “conduct” and “effects” test.

II. Morrison and its Progeny in Civil Cases

Justice Scalia’s majority opinion in Morrison overturned the “conduct” and “effects” tests and replaced them with a “domestic transaction” test. In Morrison, the respondent, Australia National Bank, operated in Australia and had common stock on the Australian Stock Exchange Limited and other foreign exchange markets. The bank had no common stock on American exchange markets. The underlying fraudulent conduct occurred in Australia. The Second Circuit upheld the district court’s dismissal of the case. The Second Circuit, applying the “conduct” test concluded that the “heart of the conduct” occurred in Australia. It therefore held that it did not have subject-matter jurisdiction over the fraudulent conduct.

The Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal, but in a lengthy opinion, overturned the “conduct” and “effects” tests. Justice Scalia strongly criticized the Second Circuit for disregarding the presumption against extraterritorial jurisdiction without clear congressional intent. Looking to the text of the Exchange Act, Justice Scalia did not find any textual support for extraterritorial application. Drawing analogies to the extraterritorial application of Title VII, in EEOC v. Arabian American Oil Co., the Court held that when an American company hires an American citizen to work abroad, Title VII does not apply because the law focuses on “domestic employment.” Justice Scalia reasoned that the “focus” of the Exchange Act is on the deceptive conduct in relation to the purchase and sale of domestic securities. Thus, the new test for the jurisdiction of the Exchange Act turns on the location of the transaction involving securities. The Exchange Act will have jurisdiction if the transaction occurred in the United States. Applying this new test to the facts of Morrison, the high court affirmed the dismissal of the case because the transaction for securities occurred in Australia.

In Absolute Activist Value Master Fund Ltd. v. Ficeto, the Second Circuit, applying Morrison, developed a definition for when a securities transaction is domestic. In Absolute Activist, a foreign company committed the fraudulent securities transaction. Despite many connections to the United States, including victims’ and perpetrators’ residency in the United States, the court could not definitively show that the transaction took place on American soil. Establishing a definition for domestic transaction, the court held that a “securities transaction is domestic when the parties incur irrevocable liability to carry out the transaction within the United States or when title is passed within the United States.” Therefore, the court held that the transactions failed to satisfy the “domestic transaction” test established in Morrison.

III. Application to Criminal Cases

In United States v. Vilar, the Second Circuit applied Morrison to criminal prosecutions of securities fraud. The defendants executed a fraudulent securities scheme through a foreign company. The prosecution sought to establish jurisdiction through the old “conduct” and “effects” tests by limiting Morrison to civil cases. Following Justice Scalia’s reasoning, Circuit Judge Cabranes concluded that the same justification for the presumption against extraterritoriality applied to criminal cases. The fundamental purpose “to protect against unintended clashes between our laws and those of other nations which could result in international discord” is served equally in applying the presumption against extraterritoriality in civil and criminal cases. Therefore, the court held that the “transactional” test in Morrison applies to criminal prosecutions.

Nevertheless, in Vilar, the Second Circuit established jurisdiction in accordance with Morrison using the domestic transaction definition established in Absolute Activist. In Vilar, in count one, renewal contracts occurred on American soil. In count two, the victim prepared and delivered papers executing the transaction on American soil. The court concluded that the record evinced facts “concerning the formation of contract” and “exchange of money[,]” establishing “irrevocable liability” in the United States. This led the court to hold that the conduct of the defendants fell within the jurisdiction of § 10b(5) of the Exchange Act, but only because it satisfied the “domestic transaction” test.

IV. Moving Forward

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act amended certain provisions of the Exchange Act. In particular, § 78aa(b) provides for District Court’s jurisdiction over:

  • Conduct within the United States that constitutes significant steps in furtherance of the violation, even if the securities transaction occurs outside the United States and involves only foreign investors; or

  • Conduct occurring outside the United States that has a foreseeable substantial effect within the United States.

These provisions did not apply in Morrison, Absolute Activist, or Vilar because of the presumption against retroactivity when legislation establishes jurisdiction. At first glance, § 78aa(b) appears to codify the “conducts” and “effects” test. A closer reading, however, reveals that the provisions only refer to the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the District Courts and not to the substantive provision of § 10(b).

Foreshadowing this distinction, Justice Scalia specifically referred to § 78aa(b) in his Morrison majority opinion. As part of his rejection of the pre-Morrison regime, he points out that the lower courts mistakenly viewed extraterritorial reach of § 10(b) as a subject-matter jurisdiction question. “But to ask what conduct § 10(b) reaches is to ask what conduct § 10(b) prohibits, which is a merits question.” “[S]ubject-matter jurisdiction, by contrast,” he continues, “refers to a tribunal’s power to hear a case.” Scalia then reads § 78aa(b) as conferring subject-matter jurisdiction to the district courts “to adjudicate whether § 10(b) applies to a National’s conduct.” By emphasizing this distinction, Justice Scalia laid the foundation for excluding § 78aa(b) from reestablishing the “conduct” and “effects” test.

Court watchers have identified SEC v Cañas Maillard as a possible test case for the government to assert extraterritorial jurisdiction through § 78aa(b). In Cañas Maillard, two Spanish citizens were accused of insider trading in the takeover of a Canadian-based company. The Canadian company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Also, some of the securities trades occurred on the New York Stock Exchange, but the transaction were executed in foreign countries. Following Vilar, the basis for jurisdiction in § 10(b)5 criminal prosecution must rest on domestic transactions. In Cañas Maillard, the SEC will have difficulty in establishing “irrevocable liability” in the United States under the “domestic transaction” test. Therefore, to establish extraterritorial jurisdiction the SEC will likely have to rely on a different theory to establish jurisdiction. In other words, this case will likely determine whether the SEC can use § 78aa(b) to establish extraterritorial jurisdiction over foreign transactions.


Assuming that the application of § 78aa(b) does not overturn Morrison, what will be the legacy of Morrison on enforcement of foreign securities fraud? While overturning the “conducts” and “effects” tests, the subsequent decision by the Second Circuit have effectively limited Morrison to the facts of the case; a foreign corporation executing foreign transactions. This effectively eliminates any attempt of resurrecting the “effects” test because any extraterritorial jurisdiction based solely on adverse effects on American markets would be dismissed under Morrison. When investing offshore, investors are now acutely aware that they probably do not have a remedy in American courts. They must therefore “make a legal decision, in addition to a financial decision.”

Has the Second Circuit resurrected a ghost of the “conduct” test through its “irrevocable liability” definition in Absolute Activist and Vilar? In Leasco, the court found extraterritorial jurisdiction based on the fact that a contract for sale of foreign securities had been negotiated and signed in New York. Using similar language in Vilar, the Second Circuit concluded that “the record contains facts ‘concerning the formation of the contracts’ and ‘the exchange of money,’ which are precisely the sort that we indicated may suffice to prove that irrevocable liability was incurred in the United States.” This description of the record in Vilar could very well describe the reasoning behind Leasco and the “conduct” test. In other words, the Second Circuit has limited Morrison to overturning only the “effects” test while still applying the ghost of the “conduct” test.


Since the writing of this essay, Cañas Mailliard settled with the SEC. the decision to settle followed a district court memorandum opinion and order freezing assets and other equitable relief. In its memorandum opinion, the court addressed the application of Morrison to the facts of the case. In response to Malliard’s argument that he did not make a domestic transaction, the court wrote,

The Court is unpersuaded by this crabbed reading of Morrison. Although Cañas did not himself purchase a security that is listed on an American exchange, the fraudulent scheme as alleged by the SEC involved his purchasing CFDs in Luxembourg, which directly caused Internaxx to purchase securities that were listed on the NYSE.

Instead of accepting a bright line rule between transactions domestic and foreign transaction, the court seems to harken back to an “effects test” from Schoenbaum. The case against Julio Marin Ugedo, the codefendant in Mailliard, continues.


Born: 18 February 1931

Married: Harold Morrison, 1958 (divorced 1964)

Education: Howard University, Cornell University


Toni Morrison was born in Lorain, Ohio, on 18 February 1931, to George Wofford and Ramah Willis Wofford. The second of four children, she was named Chloe Anthony Wofford. Her parents’ roots, like those of many African Americans of their generation, can be traced to the South. The family of Morrison’s mother was from Greenville, Alabama; her father’s family was from Georgia. Morrison did not know her father’s parents, who died before her mother and father met, but she remembers her mother’s family well. John Solomon Willis, her maternal grandfather, once owned land in Alabama. He inherited it from his mother, a Native American who had been given eighty-eight acres by the government during Reconstruction. The family subsequently lost the land because of unpaid debts they did not know they owed and ended up working as sharecroppers for the new landowners.1 John and his wife, Ardelia Willis, left Greenville around 1910 or 1912, settling first in Kentucky, where John worked in a coal mine, and then in Lorain, Ohio, a small Lake Erie steel-mill and port town located twenty-five miles west of Cleveland. The Willis family was part of what historians call the Great Migration, a period beginning in the late 1800s when many African Americans left the rural South for northern cities where work was plentiful and racism more tolerable.

George Wofford, Morrison’s father, was about sixteen when he left his birthplace of Cartersville, Georgia, and headed north. He ended up in Lorain, Ohio, where he met and married Ramah Willis.2 Shortly

after they were married, George and Ramah Wofford went to live briefly in Pittsburgh, where “all the black people lived in the hills,”3 a topographical detail that Morrison develops in her second novel, Sula (1973). They returned to Lorain, where George worked as a shipyard welder. George took pride in his work, and whenever he welded a perfect seam, he would weld his name on it. No one could see it, but as he explained to Morrison, what mattered was that he knew it was there.4 As his family grew, George took on two other jobs to support his family, which included Morrison; her older sister, Lois; and two younger brothers.


“My grandfather had left Greenville for Birmingham to earn money playing the violin. He sent money back, but my grandmother began to get nervous, all alone in Greenville, because her daughters were reaching puberty and that was dangerous business in the South, in the country, because white boys began to circle. So my grandmother decided to leave. She sent her husband an oral message: ‘We’re heading north on the midnight train. If you ever want to see us again, you’ll be on that train.’

“She didn’t know if he got the message, but with $18 to her name she packed up her six or seven children and got them all to the train in Birmingham. It was the first city my mother had ever seen…. My grandfather was nowhere in sight. As the train left the station the children began to cry’then about an hour later, he showed up. He’d been there all along, hiding, for fear somebody would recognize him and stop him for owing money.”

Toni Morrison

From Jean Strouse, “Toni Morrison’s Black Magic,” Newsweek, 30 March 1981, p. 53.

Despite the pressure of holding down three jobs for almost seventeen years, Morrison’s father was involved with raising his children. Ramah Wofford worked in the home; was active in her church, where she sang in the choir; and was highly regarded in the community as a dedicated “club woman,” a member of African American women’s literary and social clubs with a mission of racial uplift. Evenings with her family laid the groundwork for the aural quality of much of Morrison’s fiction. After the work was done, this tight-knit family would tell stories. In a 1979 interview with Colette Dowling, Morrison says, “My father’s stories were the best … the scariest. We were always begging him to repeat the stories that terrified us the best.”5 Morrison recalls that storytelling, like most other things, was a shared activity in the Wofford family:

There was a comradeship between men and women in the marriages of my grandparents, and of my mother and father. The business of story-telling was a shared activity between them, and people of both genders participated in it. We, the children, were encouraged to participate in it at a very early age. This was true with my grandfather and grandmother, as well as my father and mother, and with my uncles and aunts. There were no conflicts of gender in that area, at the level at which such are in vogue these days. My mother and father did not fight about who was to do what. Each confronted whatever crisis there was.6

A crisis that stands out in Morrison’s memory occurred when her father, who often became very angry, “threw a white man down the stairs when he followed her and her sister into their house.”7 She describes her father as being “very racist,” the result of having “received shocking impressions of adult white people” while growing up in rural Georgia.8


“A distinctive feature of South Lorain’s early ethnic history was the geographic distribution of various immigrant groups. The Sheffield Land Company pursued a policy of blatant containment of foreigners. An ‘American’ district was designated between Pearl and Grove. ‘Foreigners’ could live between Vine and Pearl, and later also to the west of Vine. The Land Company strictly enforced its policy by including a clause in the bill of sale which prohibited residents in the American area from selling to foreigners. In the event that the clause was ignored, the Land Company retained the right to buy back the house in question. Thus, segregation of ‘foreigners’ and ‘Americans’ was maintained not by law but by the power and determination of the Sheffield Land Company to control the community of mill workers and their families in South Lorain. However, in 1905 when several hundred houses were quickly erected east of Grove Avenue to accommodate new workers, no ethnic restrictions were applied by the company in this extreme eastern section of South Lorain. In 1914 the Land Company went into receivership and was liquidated. From that time on, earlier containment policies were ignored.”

Nicholas J. Zentos

From Ethnic Communities of Lorain County: History and Directory (Lorain: Privately published, 1988), p. 3.

Morrison experienced little overt racism growing up in Lorain, Ohio. The twenty-three blocks that constituted her community were culturally diverse, with African American, Greek, Italian, and southern white families living together as neighbors. Their children attended the same school, and until “things got sexual,” as Morrison puts it, the lines separating them according to race were not clearly drawn.9 Morrison’s strong-willed and determined parents and grandparents instilled in her a sense of security and selfcertainty that served her well as she matured into adulthood. More important Morrison distinguished herself intellectually as early as the first grade, when she was the only child in the class who could read.

Reading was as important to the Woffords as storytelling. Books played a major role in Morrison’s childhood. Her mother belonged to a book club, and for Morrison, the “security felt, the pleasure, when new books arrived was immense.”10 She read books by Ernest Hemingway, Willa Gather, and William Faulkner. She also read novels by Russian authors, including Fyodor Dostoevsky and Leo Tolstoy. She read Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (1857). She read Jane Austen and other writers whose books “were not written for a little black girl in Lorain, Ohio,” but that spoke to her nevertheless out of a cultural specificity that she would later try to capture in her own novels.11

In addition to the support she received from her family for her interest in literature, Morrison had two supportive English teachers, one in the sixth grade and one in the twelfth grade, who gave her books and encouragement.12 Morrison excelled in high school, where her course of study included four years of Latin. She was seventeen years old when she graduated with honors from Lorain High School in 1949. Graduation day was a big event for the Woffords. While Morrison’s mother had graduated from high school, her father had not; both parents placed a high premium on education, however. With the support and blessings of her family, Morrison left Lorain for Washington, D.C., where she enrolled at Howard University, the most prestigious African American university in the United States.


Founded in 1867 by The First Congregational Society of Washington for the purpose of training African American ministers and teachers to help with the “uplift” of the newly emancipated slaves, Howard University includes on its roster of alumnae the names of outstanding African Americans such as the former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the opera singer Jessye Norman, the sculptor Elizabeth Catlett, dancer and choreographer Debbie Alien, and Patricia Roberts Harris, who became the first African American woman to hold a presidential cabinet position when President Jimmy Carter appointed her secretary of housing and urban development. Harris also taught at the Howard University Law School, adding her name to a list of university faculty that includes some of the most gifted African American scholars, artists, and intellectuals of the twentieth century, including the distinguished sociologists F. Franklin Frazier and Kelly Miller, philosopher Alain Locke, poet Sterling Brown, pianist Hazel Harrison, drama professor Anne Cooke, and poet, playwright, and director Owen Dodson. Cooke and Dodson were key figures in Morrison’s early efforts as an actress with the Howard University Players.

Cooke, who held a Ph.D. in theater from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, began serving as chairperson of the newly established drama department at Howard University in 1942. She used her scholarly background in classical drama and her strong administrative skills to create one of the most professional undergraduate repertory companies in the country. By the time Morrison arrived on campus in 1949, the Howard Players were presenting outstanding

student performances under the direction of Cooke, James “Beenie” Butcher, and Dodson, who joined the department in 1947.13

Morrison has remarked that she was “unprepared for the impact of middle-class values on the black people at Howard, Men … boys chose their sweethearts on their color, the straightness of their hair, their father’s money. I was astonished, … I’m still astonished.”14 An English major with a minor in classics, Morrison joined the Howard Players to escape from the intraracial racism and classism she encountered elsewhere on the campus. She says that she survived these and other problems, including the college’s rigid rules regarding proper conduct —especially rigid for female students —by “being ‘jolly and fun’”15 and by performing with the Howard Players.

The Howard Players were housed on campus in Spaulding Hall. The Players performed on a narrow stage that “allowed no space for actors to pass behind the scenery, but the building had

windows that enabled an actor coming up from the dressing room on stage left to exit, climb a ladder, cross the roof, climb down into another window, then saunter in from stage right. No air conditioning, one dressing room on the first floor, one telephone for all offices, three pipes holding all the lights.”16 In this space Morrison found what she claims she could not find elsewhere on the campus: “hard work, thought, and talent”17 among people who were not concerned with class.

The Howard Players produced few plays by African American playwrights. The mainstays of the undergraduate repertory company were the classics and works by playwrights such as Federico Garcia Lorca, Ernst Toller, Arthur Miller, and, occasionally, by Dodson. Notable among Morrison’s performances is her role as Queen Elizabeth in William Shakespeare’s Richard III (1597). The playbill for the March 1953 production lists her as “Toni Wofford.” (She began calling herself “Toni” shortly after coming to Howard.) The role of Richard was played by Butcher, the acting instructor for the program. The play was directed by Dodson. His biographer, James V. Hatch, reports that Dodson wrote to a friend about what he hoped to achieve with his production: “I want the production to be melodramatic spit, but Richard’s frustration must be explained and the high terrible truth of cruelty exposed with telling loudness.”18 According to Hatch, “It was. Opening on March 11, 1953, Richard III packed the house every night.”19

Morrison thought highly of Dodson as a director. She told Hatch, “Owen understood the play in a most extraordinary way. He was first rate. Our desire to please him onstage was enormous. He could have been another Peter Brook. Maybe he was.” Morrison also confided to Hatch that she was very good in her role as the spiteful queen.20 In 1952 Morrison played the role of Cynthie, the tough-talking barfly in Robert Ardrey’s Jeb, A Play in Three Acts (1945),21 and Elsie in William Saroyan’s The Time of Your Life (1939). She also played one of the children in the 1950 production of the German playwright Ernst Toller’s satirical musical comedy, No MorePeace! (1937).22

Aside from offering her an outlet for her talent and creativity, the Howard Players enabled Morrison to experience firsthand a part of African American life with which she was unfamiliar’that of the rural South. During the summers, members of the Howard Players joined up with other African American actors to form a touring repertory company. They traveled to and performed at African American colleges throughout the South. Carol Foster Sidney, who was at Howard between 1946 and 1950 as an undergraduate major in French and drama, remembers going to the South on a tour in the summer of 1951. She recalls that the group included herself, Anne Cooke, Mary Nelson, Morrison, and about six men. It was a troubled time, long before what Sidney calls the televised Civil Rights movement of Martin Luther King Jr. The group traveled in two cars with props for scenery conspicuously loaded on top. Their audiences were African American. The group usually stayed on college campuses because, according to Sidney, it often was too dangerous for them to go into town.23 Morrison told Karen De Witt that the tours gave her an opportunity “to see the South —its roads, its shotgun houses, its schools, its particular brand of segregation. The latter of course was not different from D.C.”24

After completing her undergraduate studies in 1953, Morrison left for Ithaca, New York, where she enrolled in the graduate program in English at Cornell University. She earned an M. A. degree in English in 1955. Her M. A. thesis is titled “Virginia Woolf’s and William Faulkner’s Treatment of the Alienated.” Her topic is the theme of alienation as it is developed in Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway (1925) and in Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury (1929) and Absalom, Absalom! (1936). She argues that alienation, a major theme in twentieth-century fiction, is “a focal point” for both novelists, and then contrasts the ways in which that theme is treated in each novel. She writes that in Woolf’s novel, isolation and alienation are inevitable, “the one state of mind in modern existence which allows man to understand and triumph over his position.”25 In Faulkner’s novels alienation is not a state of mind, but rather a choice on the part of the individual to escape his responsibility to others, and is therefore a sin.26

Morrison’s choice of works by Woolf and Faulkner is indicative of her sensitivity to fiction by writers who struggle against traditional narrative structures. Both Woolf and Faulkner were innovators in their presentations of the human condition. The extent to which Morrison’s fiction is influenced by that of Woolf and Faulkner is a continuing subject of debate. She often is compared to Faulkner, who won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1949 and is considered one of America’s great modernist writers.


After earning her M. A., Morrison took a job teaching English at Texas Southern University in Houston. The university was founded on 3 March 1947 after a long struggle, dating from the nineteenth century, by the African American community of Houston to end segregation in Texas educational institutions and to ensure that the African American citizens of Texas received a quality education.27 By the time Morrison arrived in 1955, the administration at Texas Southern University had begun to expand its role in community education and job training. The strong link between the school and the African American community of Houston perhaps explains why Morrison claims to have begun to think about African American culture in more formal, academic ways at Texas Southern University. More so than at Howard, which modeled itself after East Coast Ivy League colleges, the liberal studies curriculum and programs at Texas Southern University were rooted in the history and culture of African American people and were designed to meet the educational needs of a growing African American population.28

Morrison returned to Howard in 1957 to teach English. In 1958 she married Harold Morrison, a Jamaican student who was studying architecture at Howard. Their first child, Harold Ford, was born in 1961. Sometime in 1962 Toni Morrison joined a writing group. The group included among its members May Miller, a widely published playwright of the Harlem Renaissance era; Claude Brown, a young writer whose autobiographical Manchild in the Promised Land (1965) is regarded as a seminal work of the 1960s; and Charles Sebree, a gifted painter and writer.

The group met once a month and had one rule: “You couldn’t come unless you brought something” to read. Morrison, who was still teaching at Howard, brought the “old junk” she had written in high school. When that ran out, she wrote a story about a young black girl— subsequently named Pecola—and her desire for blue eyes. In a 1977 interview she said of the story, “It was written hurriedly and probably not very well, but I read it and some liked it—I was 30 years old then so I wasn’t a novice. Still I thought it was finished; I’d written it, had an audience, so I put it aside.”29

Her audience included Sebree, whom Morrison met through Dodson. Before coming to Washington, D.C., Sebree had taught theater design for the American Negro Theater in New York.30 He was brought to Howard, at Dodson’s insistence, to design the set and costumes for Dodson’s new script, Bayou Legend (1948). In the 8 May 1948 edition of the Washington, D.C. Evening Star, Jay Carmody called Bayou Legend the “most elaborate production staged in campus theatre history.”31 Morrison told James Hatch that Sebree was a “key person in my writing. Without his encouragement I never would have written The Bluest Eye.” She credited Sebree with being generous with his encouragement and advice.32

After putting her story aside, Morrison went about the business of raising her family and teaching in an intellectual climate that was just beginning to reflect the social and political changes that were sweeping the nation. Morrison’s reaction to the turmoil that engulfed Howard’s campus in the early 1960s over the ideologies of blackness and cultural identity was similar to that of many other educators who found themselves caught up in the cross fire between students and college administrators over university policies. She did not understand this new idea of blackness. Her idea of blackness had been nurtured by her family and, during her undergraduate days, by Dodson and Brown. She felt that they had a deeper and more historically grounded understanding of blackness than the younger people, whose militancy she found unsettling.

Morrison also might have been unsettled at that time by a marriage that was going badly. She left Howard in 1964, traveled to Europe, and divorced her husband when she returned. She gave birth to her second son, Slade, and returned with her two children for a brief stay at the home of her parents in Lorain, Ohio. One day she noticed in The New York Review of Books an ad for a textbook editor at L. W Singer, a subsidiary of Random House, located in Syracuse, New York. Morrison took the job and set out for Syracuse for the practical purpose of supporting her family. She told Colette Dowling in a 1979 interview that the job appealed to her for another reason. “The civil rights movement was putting pressure on schools to revise the way blacks were being presented in the curriculum. I thought I might be able to make some changes.”33 She also hoped eventually to be transferred to Random House offices in New York City.

Living in Syracuse was a mixed blessing for Morrison. Without friends or family close by and with only two small children to keep her company, she often was lonely and unhappy, words that best describe for her what she calls “an unbusy state,” when a person is more aware of the self than of others.34 To ease her loneliness Morrison began reworking and developing the story she had written for the writing group at Howard University. She wrote late in the evenings, after her children were in bed. When she transferred in 1967 to the trade division at Random House in New York City, where she had greater responsibilities, Morrison was accustomed to living a quiet and—she insists—uneventful life that did not include much socializing. She spent her time and energy juggling the three spheres around which her life revolved: that of her children, her job, and her writing.


To the Editor:

… Sara Blackburn cannot herself transcend being a white woman (writer), so why does she hope to see Toni Morrison “transcend” being a black woman (writer)? There is some-thing unique in every ethnic group experience. The idea of trying to minimize or wish away each other’s uniqueness is silly. What is needed is more respect for racial identities other than one’s own. Not long ago a white woman wrote to me urging me to use my fiction and poetry to fight “white people and the other wrongs of the world.” Sara Blackburn reminds me of this woman. Toni Morrison is a good writer who has the right to choose her own method and subject. Sara Blackburn would do well to remember that the most effective “message” (if she insists on one) is the one that is indirect.

Clarence Major

New York City

From New York Times, 20 January 1974, VII, p. 27.

As Morrison explains it, managing her responsibilities in each of these spheres was not as daunting as it might seem. She simply cut out those things that were not essential to them. “What happens, I think, when you do several things is that you cut a lot of things out. So I don’t entertain people very much and I’m not entertained very much. So, if you don’t go to a dinner party, you have three hours to do something else in. … I think one thing that happens is that you learn to use time for more than one thing. If you’re cutting the lawn, you really can’t focus all of your mind on that, so you really are in the business of thinking through some different kinds of things. When I’m writing a book, there’s almost no time when it’s not on my mind.”35 This practical approach to her career served Morrison well. During the 1970s Morrison published three novels, The Bluest Eye (1970), Sula (1973), and Song of Solomon (1977), and many newspaper and magazine articles. She also edited several important works of African American fiction and nonfiction, including The Black Book (1974).

The Bluest Eye received favorable reviews by Haskel Frankel in The New YorkTimes Book Review and by L. E. Sissman in The New Yorker. The novel also attracted the attention of a growing African American female audience, although it was not an immediate success. Neither was her second novel, Sula. Sara Blackburn, in a 1973 review of Sula for The New York Times Book Review, underscored an attitude against which African American writers continue to struggle. She wrote, “Toni Morrison is far too talented to remain only a marvelous recorder of the black side of provincial American life. If she is to maintain the large and serious audience she deserves, she is going to have to address a riskier contemporary reality than this beautiful but nevertheless distanced novel. And if she does this, it seems to me that she might easily transcend that early and unintentionally limiting classification ‘black woman writers’ and take her place among the most serious, important and talented American novelists now working.”36 Blackburn’s comments elicited strong responses in the editorial pages of The New York Times Book Review from several people, including the novelists Clarence Major and Alice Walker. Major and Walker both argued that her review was an example of how far white critics would go either to dictate what African American writers should write or reduce their works to sociology.”37


“Like every other book, it would be confined by a cover and limited to type. Nevertheless, it had to have—for want of a better word—a sound, a very special sound. A sound made up of all the elements that distinguished black life (its pecu-liar brand of irony, oppression, versatility, madness, joy, strength, shame, honor, triumph, grace and stillness) as well as those qualities that identified it with all of mankind (compassion, anger, foolishness, courage, self-deception and vision). And it must concentrate on life as lived-not as imagined-by the people: the anonymous men and women who speak in conventional histories only through their leaders. The people who had always been viewed only as percentages would come alive in The Black Book.”

Toni Morrison

From “Toni Morrison: Rediscovering Black History,” New York Times Magazine dl August 1974): 14-24.


Morrison found her 1974 editorial project, The Black Book, to be particularly satisfying and enlightening. In a 1974 New York Times Magazine article, she wrote that The Black Book demanded the collabo-ration of “collectors—people who had the original raw material documenting our life” rather than writers.38 The chief collector for the project was Middleton Harris, a retired city employee whom Morrison met through a friend. She described him as having a special gift of humor, a love for the material he collected, and a “ruthlessness in his pursuit of material.” Joining Harris were Morris Levitt, “a retired public-school teacher and amateur black sports enthusiast”; Roger Furman, “an actor and director of New York’s black New Heritage Repertory Theatre”; and Ernest Smith, who began collecting African American memorabilia when he was fourteen.39 Harris’s sense of humor probably helped the group keep its sense of purpose as it sifted through print material and artifacts and listened to the “recollections” of the many people who contributed to the book, including Morrison’s parents, whom the editors credit in their acknowledgments.

The materials collected in The Black Book are disturbing reminders of the extent to which racism is embedded in almost every social, cultural, and political institution in the United States. Newspaper articles and advertisements about the sale of African Americans as slaves, a slave tax receipt for the State of Virginia, the grotesqueries of popular sheet music covers, a photo of a lynching—these materials recount a part of American history that many people would rather forget. Morrison describes the time she spent working on the project as a growing experience:

For me it was like growing up black one more time. As I worked with those men to select and focus the material every emotion that had engulfed or buoyed me as a black in this country was repeated. It was also as though I were experiencing once again the barbarity visited upon my people as I sat in Spike Harris’s apartment reading 17th-century through 19th-century newspapers with a magnifying glass.40

The barbarous acts she read about make it all the more remarkable that the creative spirit of African American people prevailed under tremendous racial oppression. The book includes “pages and pages of the incredible craftwork of slaves: the beautiful quilts, silks, ironwork done by the people for whom artistry, genius and pride in the work of one’s hands was not broken by white contempt.”41 It also includes examples of African American genius in manufacturing and industry, as well as defining moments for African Americans in sports and entertainment during the first half of the twentieth century.

During the eighteen months that Morrison worked on The Black Book, her other “publishing ventures” got secondary treatment because she was “scared that the world would fall away before somebody put together a thing that got close to the way we really were.”42 When it was finished, she returned to her own writing with apparent renewed vigor and enough energy to teach at Yale University for a year.

Morrison’s third novel, Song ofSolomon, was published in 1977. It was chosen as the Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month-Club for that year. Its selection marked the second time the club gave top billing to a book by an African American author. Richard Wright’s Native Son (1940) was the first. Song of Solomon also won the National Book Critics Circle Award for 1977. In 1978 Morrison was presented with an award in literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Other prestigious honors, awards, and appointments followed. In 1980 President Carter appointed Morrison to the National Council for the Arts; in 1981, the year in which her fourth book, Tar Baby, was published, she was inducted into the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.


Whose house is this?

Whose night keeps out the light

In here?

Say, who owns this house?

It’s not mine.

I had another, sweeter, brighter, With a view of lakes crossed in painted boats; Of fields wide as arms opened for me.

This house is strange.

Its shadows lie.

Say, tell me, why does its lock fit my key?

Toni Morrison

Lyrics from Honey and Rue (Hamburg, Germany: Deutsche Grammophon, 1995).


In 1983, after almost twenty years in publishing, Morrison left Random House. She returned to teaching in 1984 when she was named Albert Schweitzer Professor of the Humanities at the State University of New York in Albany. While in Albany, Morrison wrote a play, Dreaming Emmett (1986), based on the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, an African American teenager from Chicago who was murdered by racist whites for allegedly whistling at a white woman during a summer vacation at his relative’s house in Mississippi. It was commissioned by The New York State Writers Institute at State University of New York at Albany and produced in the Capital Repertory Theater as part of the first celebration of the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., as a national holiday.

The murder of Till first arose as a topic in Morrison’s writing in a discussion among characters in Song of Solomon. Morrison had been trying to conceptualize the story of Till and his death as a play prior to going to Albany. However, she was aware that novelists often fail as playwrights. She reportedly asked her colleague and founder of the Writers Institute, Bill Kennedy, “to find one American who wrote novels first and then successfully plays. Just one. And neither he nor I could come up with any one American. Even Henry James was a failure. He tried it three times and each time it was worse than the other. But I feel I have a strong point. I write good dialogue. It’s theatrical. It moves. It just doesn’t hang there. Besides I have Gilbert Moses. And I have great respect for him as a stage director.”43

Gilbert Moses was a founding member of the Free Southern Theater, a group of committed and socially conscious theater artists that traveled throughout rural Mississippi presenting plays to African American people for free during the 1960s. Moses had come to Mississippi from New York in the early 1960s to work at the Mississippi Free Press. In the summer of 1962 he met other northern students who shared his dream of creating a socially conscious theater in the South with the purpose of helping to liberate African American people from racial oppression. He remained with the Free Southern Theater until 1966.44 In 1969 Moses won an Obie Award for directing Amiri Baraka’s Slave Ship (1967). He won a New York Drama Critics Circle Award in 1975 for The Taking of Miss Janie, a 1975 play by Ed Bullins. In addition to directing for theater, Moses wrote and directed for television and cinema.

Dreaming Emmett premiered on 4 January 1986 at the Market-place Theatre in Albany, New York. The performance apparently was not widely reviewed. An article announcing the play, titled “Toni Morrison Tries Her Hand at Playwriting,” appeared in the 29 December 1985 issue of The New York Times. In the article Morrison, who attended some of the rehearsals, compares writing for the theater with writing fiction:

The play is both more and less … It’s less in the setting of a mood and in manipulating the readers. In the novel one has control of everything. Giving that up in a play is not pleasant for me. But on the other hand, there is a thing that happens on the stage. After giving up control, you see the manifestation of the work through somebody else’s mind … Like going to auditions. Everyone reads the lines in a different way. When I read the lines, I hear only my voice. When you hear the actresses and actors read they give new meanings to the lines and so the texture of the play changes. But in a novel, I only hear it one way, through my voice.45

In addition to attending rehearsals for Dreaming Emmett, in 1986 Morrison was finishing her fifth novel, Beloved, which was published in 1987. It was the second of Morrison’s novels to become a Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month-Club. In 1988 it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction, the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, and the Unitarian Universalist Association Melcher Book Award. The Pulitzer Prize helped to secure Morrison’s position as a major American writer.

In 1989 Morrison made another important move—from Albany to Princeton, New Jersey, where she was named the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Council of Humanities. In addition to her distinguished faculty position, Morrison has served as a member of the Helsinki Watch Committee and the Board of Trustees of the New York Public Library and has chaired the New York State Department of Education Committee on Adult Literacy. Morrison’s service on these committees apparently did not hamper her creativity or energy. In 1992 she published her sixth novel, Jazz, which made The New York Times best-seller list. In that year she also published Playing in the Dark: Whiteness andThe Literary Imagination, a collection of essays in which Morrison reexamines several major American novels from what she calls an “Africanist” perspective. A collection of essays Morrison edited in 1992 on the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings, titled Race-ing, Justice, En-gendering Power: Essays on Anita Hill, ClarenceThomas and the Construction of Social Reality, helped to establish Morrison as an important commentator on social issues.


“I was thrilled that my mother is still alive and can share this with me. And I can claim representation in so many areas. I’m a Midwesterner, and everyone in Ohio is excited. I’m also a New Yorker, and a New Jerseyan, and an American, plus I’m an African-American, and a woman. I know it seems like I’m spreading like algae when I put it this way, but I’d like to think of the prize being distributed to these regions and nations and races.”

Toni Morrison

From William Grimes, “Toni Morrison is ‘93 Winner of Nobel Prize in Literature,” New York Times, 8 October 1993, A3; p. I.

In a display of the range of her creativity, Morrison also wrote the lyrics to Honey and Rue (1992), a cycle of six songs commissioned by the Carnegie Hall Corporation for the soprano Kathleen Battle. After having read The Bluest Eye and Morrison’s more recent fiction, Battle began thinking of how “thrilling it would be to hear her words set to music.” She asked Andre Previn if he would be interested in composing a song cycle for her and asked Morrison if she would write the lyrics. Morrison agreed to write the lyrics.46 This effort was Morrison’s second venture into music. She wrote the lyrics for a musical about Storyville, titled New Orleans, which was set to music by Jelly Roll Morton.47 One of the things that attracted her to Battle’s song cycle was that she would be writing lyrics for which the music had yet to be composed. Morrison worked alone, without consuiting either Previn or Battle. As Morrison explained to Matthew Gurewitsch:

I worked with images rather than a story: images of yearning, satisfaction, resolution. And when I had the lyrics done, I sent them to Andrê. He would ask me questions and we would wrestle with certain words. The words were not a kind that establish some sort of privilege over the music. They were not so determinative that you could only do one thing. Later he played me the music, asking me at many junctures, “Is this the mood you had in mind? Did you expect resolution here?” And I’d tell him what I thought the language was doing on its own. It was a very exciting collaboration.48


“The first thing we saw was a panoply of instruments, stretching across the stage like a sculptural installation. Mr. Roach played a long drum solo (too long, I thought). Then a podium with thick metallic bars appeared from the wings. Ms. Morrison stood on it as if she were on the prow of a ship, and it moved slowly across the stage, pushed by Mr. Jones, on his hands and knees.

“Ms. Morrison read passages about life in death and death in life; about being hated and hunted; about sanction and unsanctioned love, and about pleasure and danger in the city. (‘I love this city!’ she cried at one point, and Mr. Jones grabbed her and twirled her around the stage for all the world as if they were on the floor of the Savoy Ballroom.)”

Margo Jefferson

From “Performing Art is Always Theater,” New York Times, 6 August 1995: H5.

When Morrison and Previn completed their tasks, they gathered at Battle’s house for a private “unveiling.” Battle sang the songs and was “at once struck by how beautifully the poetry and music melded and how naturally they fit in my throat.” She describes Honey and Rue as “a work of light and shadow, hope and frustration, celebration and disappointment, contemplation and resignation, faith and renewal.”49

Honey and Rue premiered on 5 January 1992 at Carnegie Hall in New York City, with Andre Previn conducting the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Although reviews of the performances by Previn and Battle were mixed, Morrison received high praise for her lyrics. David Patrick Sterns described Morrison’s lyrics as “alternately earthy and ethereal prose vignettes of love, faith and liberation” but felt that Previn in his musical scoring of them “either kept too much of a respectful distance or didn’t feel them deeply enough to match the vividness of Morrison’s images.”50

In 1993 Morrison reached a pinnacle when she was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. She was the ninetieth winner of the prize and the first African American woman to be so honored. When asked by Claudia Dreifus during an interview for The New York Times Magazine if she felt a sense of triumph when she went to Stockholm to collect her prize, Morrison responded,

I felt a lot of “we” excitement. It was as if the whole category of “female writer” and “black writer” had been redeemed. 1 felt I represented a whole world of women who either were silenced or who had never received the imprimatur of the established literary world. I felt the way I used to feel at commencements where I’d get an honorary degree: that it was very important for young black people to see a black person do that, that there were probably young people in South-Central Los Angeles or Selma who weren’t quite sure that they could do it. But seeing me up there might encourage them to write one of those books I’m desperate to read. And that made me happy. It gave me license to strut.51


Patty and Mickey and Liza Sue

Live in a big brown box.

It has carpets and curtains and beanbag chairs.

And the door has three big locks.

Oh, it’s pretty inside and the windows are wide

With shutters to keep out the day.

They have swings and slides and custom-made beds

And the doors open only one way.

Toni Morrison

From The Big Box (New York: Hyperion/Jump at the Sun, 1999).

As a Nobel Prize laureate, Morrison received an $825,000 cash award. Sales of her books quickly jumped to an all-time high. In Germany, more than three hundred thousand copies of Jazz were sold on the day the prize was announced.

While 1993 was a year for Morrison to celebrate, it was not without trials. On Christmas Day her home on the Hudson River burned to the ground after an ember in the fireplace ignited a sofa. No one was injured, but the fire, which took a hundred firefighters five and a half hours to put out, destroyed many of her manuscripts and other personal papers. Morrison had promised to donate the documents to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City. The chief archivist of the center, after hearing about the loss, commented on its impact on literary scholars and historians: “Most fine writing is the result of draft upon draft upon draft before you get to the final published text … Literary scholars and biographers and others working on the life and contribution of certain literary artists turn to the original manuscripts to assist in tracking the process of intellectual creativity.”52 Morrison told Dreifus that for months after the fire she “wouldn’t talk to anyone who had not had a house burn down,” including the novelist Maxine Hong Kingston, with whom she “traded information.”53 Although she felt that she “may not ever, ever get over” the fire, by late 1994 she was deeply immersed in the writing of her new book, Paradise (1998).

Between 1994 and the publication of Paradise, Morrison added her voice to an increasingly heated debate over immigration in a collection of essays titled Arguing Immigration: The Debate Over theChanging Face of America (1994).54 She edited Birth of a Nation ‘hood: Gaze, Script, and Spectacle in the O. J. Simpson Case, a collection of essays, and she collaborated with the choreographer Bill T. Jones and the drummer-arranger Max Roach on an experimental performance piece titled Degga (1995). Degga is a word from Wolof, an African language spoken mainly in Senegal. It means “to know,” “to hear,” or “to understand.” Part of the Lincoln Center’s Serious Fun “American Visionaries” Summer Festival, Degga was scheduled for two performances, 25 and 26 July 1995. They sold out immediately. A third performance on 27 July also sold out. Reviews were mixed. The New York Times critic Margo Jefferson’s review is typical of the kinds of responses the work received. She felt that the piece was “uneven” and more about cooperation than collaboration:

Some of Mr. Roach’s solos were too self-important (overlong solos usually are). And while Ms. Morrison’s prose is dramatic—it joins elaborate storytelling to impassioned, analytical preaching—it is not theatrical. What do I mean by that? 1 mean that it seems wholly self-contained; it does arouse and instruct listeners, but it does not encourage them to answer back on equal terms. Mr. Jones is as strong an artist as Ms. Morrison, but while you could see the links between his dance and her words, you didn’t altogether feel them viscerally; the two cooperated more than they collaborated.”55

In 1996 Morrison received yet another prestigious literary award, The National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. The sales of her books skyrocketed again in 1996 after Song of Solomon was picked as the second selection of Oprah Winfrey’s television book club. Winfrey launched her book club on 17 September 1996. Much to the amazement of writers and publishers everywhere, Winfrey dramatically and almost instantly boosted sales of books featured on her show. Her first selection, Jacquelyn Mitchard’s The Deep End of the Ocean (1996), brought that author instant celebrity.56 Song of Solomon was already a best-seller when it was announced as a selection on 18 October 1996. According to Morrison, the novel “sold more in three or four months than it had in its entire 20 years” as a result of Oprah’s Book Club.57 On 16 January 1998 Winfrey announced that Paradise, Morrison’s newly published seventh novel, had been selected. On 27 April 2000 Winfrey selected Morrison’s first novel, The Bluest Eye.

Paradise is the third book by Morrison to be chosen by The Book-of-the-Month-Club as its main selection. Most reviews of the novel were positive, but after it was featured on Oprah’s Book Club, what reviewers and critics had to say about it did not matter much in terms of sales. Readers rushed to the bookstores to buy Paradise.

Morrison has long been a favorite of Winfrey. An avid reader, Winfrey had read Beloved shortly after it was published. Deeply moved by the suffering of Morrison’s fictional character, Sethe, Winfrey decided eleven years later that the novel should be brought to the big screen with herself in the lead role. She told Morrison, “I think I can play Sethe … And if I can’t, I’ll learn how.”58 Danny Glover played the role of Paul D. The screenplay was written by Richard LaGravenese and was directed by Jonathan Demme. Despite a big budget, excellent actors, extensive advertising, and a screenplay that remained as true to the novel as the medium of film would allow, the 1998 movie was not a success at the box office. Despite the disappointing outcome, Winfrey, through her movie venture and her book club, achieved something that even the awarding of the Nobel Prize had not: she made Toni Morrison a household name.

In 1999 Morrison published with her son Slade a children’s picture book titled The Big Box. Based on a story Slade composed when he was nine years old, the book tells of three children, Patty, Mickey, and Liza Sue, placed in a big box after their parents, teachers, and other adults decide that they “can’t handle their freedom.”59 The inside of their box is filled with each child’s favorite things. Their parents visit once a week and bring them more things. The children cannot leave their box to happily romp and roam as they once did. The door is secured with three strong locks. The children play with the things their parents bring, eat lots of junk food, and wear the blank expressions of little people whose imaginations have grown dull. The last of the colorful images Giselle Potter created for the story shows the children purposefully pushing away the walls of their box and climbing out to join the animals waiting expectantly for them to be free. Morrison’s foray into children’s literature, although not universally praised, is one more example of her insistence on stretching the boundaries of her creativity and working in media that offer new challenges and opportunities for her to continue growing, learning, and teaching others about her many fictional worlds.


1. Collette Dowling, “The Song of Toni Morrison” in Conversations with Toni Morrison, edited by Danielle Taylor-Guthrie (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1994), p. 54.

2. Betty Russell, “All That Jazz” in Conversations with Toni Morrison, p. 283.

3. Ibid., p. 12.

4. Claudia Dreifus, “Chloe Wofford Talks about Toni Morrison,” New York Times Magazine, 11 September 1994, p. 73.

5. Dowling, p. 50.

6. Nellie Y. McKay, “An Interview with Toni Morrison” in Conversations with Toni Morrison, p. 141.

7. Dowling, p. 50.

8. Jean Strouse, “Toni Morrison’s Black Magic,” Newsweek, 30 March 1981, p. 53.

9. Ibid., p. 54.

10. Dreifus, p. 73.

11. Strouse, p. 54.

12. Chat room transcript, Time.com (21 January 1998).

13. James V. Hatch, Sorrow Is the Only Faithful One: The Life of Owen Dodson (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993), pp. 144-150.

14. Karen De Witt, “Song of Solomon: Toni Morrison’s Saga Is Praised in All the Proper Places,” Washington Post, 30 September 1977: p. Cl.

15. Ibid., p. C2.

16. Hatch, p. 145.

17. De Witt, p. 2.

18. Hatch, p. 186.

19. Ibid., p. 186.

20. Ibid., p. 325, n. 6.

21. Robert Ardrey, Plays of Three Decades (New York: Atheneum, 1963), pp. 93-168.

22. Richard Dove, He Was a German: A Biography of Ernst Toller (London: Libris, 1990), pp. 224-228.

23. Unpublished interview with Carol Foster Sidney, 4 July 2001.

24. DeWitt, p. 3.

25. Chloe Ardellia Wofford, “Virginia Woolf’s and William Faulkner’s Treatment of the Alienated,” M. A. thesis, Cornell University, 1955, p. 2.

26. Ibid., p. 3.

27. Ira B. Bryant, Texas Southern University: Its Antecedents, Political Origin, and Future (Houston: Armstrong, 1975).

28. Ron David, Toni Morrison Explained (New York: Random House, 2000), p. 11.

29. Mel Watkins, “Talk with Toni Morrison” in Conversations with Toni Morrison, p. 44.

30. For a brief biography of Charles Sebree, see Hatch, Sorrow Is the Only Faithful One: The Life of Owen Dodson, p. 311, n. 11.

31. Ibid., pp. 146-147.

32. Ibid., p. 324, n. 3.

33. Dowling, p. 55.

34. Claudia Tate, “Toni Morrison,” in Conversations with Toni Morrison, p. 167.

35. Jane Bakerman, “The Seams Can’t Show: An Interview with Toni Morrison” in Conversations with Toni Morrison, p. 33.

36. Henry Louis Gates Jr., and K. Anthony Appiah, eds., Toni Morrison: Critical Perspectives Past and Present (New York: Amistad, 1993), p. 8.

37. “To the Editor,” New York Times, 20 January 1974, VII: 27.

38. “Toni Morrison: Rediscovering Black History,” New York Times Magazine, 11 August 1974, p. 16.

39. Ibid.

40. Ibid.

41. Toni Morrison, “Behind the Making of The Black Book,” Black World, 23 (February 1974): 87.

42. Ibid., 90.

43. Margaret Croyden, “Toni Morrison Tries Her Hand at Playwriting,” New York Times, 29 December 1985, II: pp. 6, 16.

44. See Annemarie Bean, ed., A Sourcebook of African American Performance: Plays, People, Movements (London & New York: Routledge, 1999), pp. 97-147. See also Mance Williams, Black Theatre in the 1960s and 1970s: A Historical-Critical Analysis of the Movement (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1985), pp. 56-66.

45. Croyden, p. 16. See also Stephen J. Whitfield, A Death in the Delta: The Story of Emmett Till (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 119-122.

46. Kathleen Battle, “The Birth of Honey and Rue,” compact-disc liner notes for Honey and Rue (Hamburg: Deutsche Grammophon, 1995), p. 3.

47. Betty Fussell, “All That Jazz,” in Conversations with Toni Morrison, edited by Taylor-Guthrie (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1994), p. 286.

48. Matthew Gurewitsch, “Toni Morrison on Honey and Rue,” compact-disc liner notes for Honey and Rue (Hamburg: Deutsche Grammophon, 1995), pp. 6, 8.

49. Battle, p. 3.

50. David Patrick Sterns, “Honey and Rue,” Independent (London), 8 January 1992.

51. Dreifus, pp. 73-75.

52. Beth J. Harpaz, “Morrison’s Manuscripts Are Destroyed in Fire,” Chicago Sun Times, 28 December 1993, p. 36.

53. Dreifus, p. 74.

54. Nicolaus Mills, ed., Arguing Immigration: The Debate Over the Changing Face of America (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994).

55. Margo Jefferson, “Performing Art Is Always Theater,” New York Times, 6 August 1995: H5: p. 18.

56. Prakash Gandhi, “Oprah’s Book Club,” 0: The Oprah Magazine, 1 (April 2000): 48.

57. Richard Corliss, “Bewitching Beloved,” Time, 152 (October 1998): 78.

58. Ibid., 75.

59. Toni Morrison and Slade Morrison, The Big Box (New York: Hyperion/Jump at the Sun, 1999).


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