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We Know Her as Toni Morrison, But That's Not Really Her Name -- Here's Why She Changed It!

Chloe Wofford also known as Toni Morrison

The late Toni Morrison, a Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner, is known as the author of many notable novels that highlight African American culture. Her works include Beloved and The Bluest Eye. For decades, people have known her name to be Toni Morrison, but what many people don't know is that her real name is actually Chloe Anthony Wofford.
She started writing fiction while attending Howard University where she participates in a writer's group. At that time, she wrote a short story about a Black girl who wanted to have blue eyes which she eventually developed as her debut novel, The Bluest Eye, in 1970.

She graduated from Howard University in 1953 with a B.A. in English, and earned a Master of Arts from Cornell University in 1955. She then taught English, first at Texas Southern University, then at Howard University.

During her tenure at Howard University, she decided to change her name to Toni because people had a hard time pronouncing her birth name, Chloe. And in 1958, she married Howard Morrison, which also changed her last name to Morrison.

Even before that, however, the National Catholic Reporter said she first changed her name "when she became Catholic at age 12 and chose the name Anthony, after St. Anthony of Padua as her confirmation name." Since then, Anthony became her middle name. Her family members shortened it to Toni, which she used while at Howard.

Morrison, who divorced with her husband in 1964, said she regretted the name changes years after. According to The Guardian, Morrison said in 1992, "I am really Chloe Anthony Wofford. That's who I am. I have been writing under this other person's name. I write some things now as Chloe Wofford, private things. I regret having called myself Toni Morrison when I published my first novel, The Bluest Eye."