Born as Chloe Ardelia Wofford, Toni Morrison is a Nobel Prize- and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist famous for her rich use of language and unforgettable African-American characters. From her first novel, “The Bluest Eye”, she continued penning great works such as “Sula”, “Song of Solomon”, and the critically-acclaimed “Beloved”. She also taught at Princeton University and held workshops for aspiring writers.
Growing up in Lorain, Ohio, Morrison’s parents had instilled a deep sense of heritage and language in their daughter through songs and stories. Despite being surrounded by racism, her family held their head high and showed her at a young age, that you can keep your integrity regardless of how people tried to put you down.
Morrison remains to this day as one of the most influential writers of our time. Many people look to her works and lectures for inspiration or empowerment. Learn from her wisdom and strength through these timeless Toni Morrison quotes collected just for you.
The Best Toni Morrison Quotes of All Time
“You are your best thing.” – Toni Morrison
“The function of freedom is to free someone else.” – Toni Morrison
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison
“If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.” – Toni Morrison
“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” – Toni Morrison
“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” – Toni Morrison
“Could you really love somebody who was absolutely nobody without you? You really want somebody like that? Somebody who falls apart when you walk out the door? You don’t, do you?” – Toni Morrison
“You can’t own a human being. You can’t lose what you don’t own.” – Toni Morrison
“Make up a story…For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light.” – Toni Morrison
“Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.” – Toni Morrison
“As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.” – Toni Morrison
“What difference do it make if the thing you scared of is real or not?” – Toni Morrison
Inspiring Toni Morrison Quotes about Love
“Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.” – Toni Morrison
“Did you ever see the way the clouds love a mountain? They circle all around it; sometimes you can’t even see the mountain for the clouds. But you know what? You go up top and what do you see? His head. The clouds never cover the head. His head pokes through, because the clouds let him; they don’t wrap him up. They let him keep his head up high, free, with nothing to hide him or bind him.” – Toni Morrison
“Love is divine only and difficult always. If you think it is easy you are a fool. If you think it is natural you are blind.” – Toni Morrison
“You’re turning over your whole life to him. Your whole life, girl. And if it means so little to you that you can just give it away, hand it to him, then why should it mean any more to him? He can’t value you more than you value yourself.” – Toni Morrison
“Love is never any better than the lover. Wicked people love wickedly, violent people love violently, weak people love weakly, stupid people love stupidly, but the love of a free man is never safe.” – Toni Morrison
“There is a loneliness that can be rocked. Arms crossed, knees drawn up, holding, holding on, this motion, unlike a ship’s, smooths and contains the rocker. It’s an inside kind–wrapped tight like skin.” – Toni Morrison
“Along with the idea of romantic love, she was introduced to another – physical beauty. Probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought.” – Toni Morrison
“Don’t ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn’t fall in love, I rose in it.” – Toni Morrison
“And I am all the things I have ever loved: scuppernong wine, cool baptisms in silent water, dream books and number playing.” – Toni Morrison
“She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.” – Toni Morrison
“Anything dead coming back to life hurts.” – Toni Morrison
“Let me tell you something. A man ain’t a goddamn ax. Chopping, hacking, busting every goddamn minute of the day. Things get to him. Things he can’t chop down because they’re inside.” – Toni Morrison
“To get to a place where you could love anything you chose – not to need permission for desire – well now that was freedom.” – Toni Morrison
“Something that is loved is never lost.” – Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison Quotes and Sayings on Writing
“I wrote my first novel because I wanted to read it.” – Toni Morrison
“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” – Toni Morrison
“Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.” – Toni Morrison
“I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game. ‘” – Toni Morrison
“Anger…it’s a paralyzing emotion…you can’t get anything done. People sort of think it’s an interesting, passionate, and igniting feeling — I don’t think it’s any of that — it’s helpless…” – Toni Morrison
“At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint, or even remember it. It is enough.” – Toni Morrison
“Beauty was not simply something to behold; it was something one could do.” – Toni Morrison
“Language alone protects us from the scariness of things with no names. Language alone is meditation.” – Toni Morrison
“All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.” – Toni Morrison
“Some things you forget. Other things you never do.” – Toni Morrison
“It is sheer good fortune to miss somebody long before they leave you.” – Toni Morrison
“Writing is really a way of thinking – not just feeling but thinking about things that are disparate, unresolved, mysterious, problematic or just sweet.” – Toni Morrison
“The presence of evil was something to be first recognized, then dealt with, survived, outwitted, triumphed over.” – Toni Morrison
“What’s the world for you if you can’t make it up the way you want it?” – Toni Morrison
Which of these Toni Morrison quotes is your favorite?
Toni Morrison’s amazing use of language can make even a non-reader love books. Having explored different types of writings (she also penned some children’s books), she is constantly changing and evolving in her field.
Although her books have sold millions of copies around the world, she maintains that:
“…everything I’ve ever done, in the writing world, has been to expand articulation, rather than to close it, to open doors, sometimes, not even closing the book – leaving the endings open for reinterpretation, re-visitation, a little ambiguity.” Her humbleness and solid values has kept her going strong through difficulties she faced in her life.
If you enjoyed these Toni Morrison quotes – or have been inspired by them – please don’t forget to share. Let someone else be moved by the beauty of her words today!