Author's home burns writings saved

December 28, 1993|By New York Times News Service

NEW YORK -- A Christmas Day fire destroyed a Hudson River home owned by the Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, but a portion of her original manuscripts and other papers in a basement study were not badly damaged, a friend of the author said yesterday.

"The house was almost totally destroyed, but indications are that the major part of the manuscripts and other material in the basement were not severely damaged," Howard Dodson, chief of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a unit of the New York Public Library, said.

Mr. Dodson said he had been told by a relative of Ms. Morrison, whom he declined to identify, that the manuscripts and other papers had been salvaged from the home's wreckage.

The author, he said, had owned the house, in Grand View-on-Hudson, for about 10 years and had used it as a retreat since 1989, when she moved to Princeton to teach creative writing.

Not all of Ms. Morrison's papers were stored at the Grand View home, Mr. Dodson said. Other papers, he said, are being kept at her main residence in Princeton, while others may be in storage at the university or some other institutions. Ms. Morrison could not be reached for comment.

Ms. Morrison, 62, became the first black woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. She has written six novels; the first, "The Bluest Eye," appeared in 1970. "Beloved" won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988.

Several of the 100 Nyack firefighters who fought the flames for five hours sustained minor injuries. Ms. Morrison, who was in Princeton at the time, was called by her son and rushed to Grand View, where witnesses said she watched the last of the firefighting efforts.

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