Morrison's papers saved, lawyer says

December 29, 1993|By Newsday

NEW YORK -- Four file cabinets that held Nobel laureate Toni Morrison's papers, "plus several loads of other papers," were retrieved from the basement of her fire-gutted Hudson Valley home, her lawyer said yesterday.

"She has not yet had an opportunity to inspect those papers," said the attorney, Frederick Cammerzell of Princeton, N.J. "She doesn't know what their condition is or what they actually are. Toni has not yet inspected this material. She has to come to grips with [the] loss of the house. This was her home."

He said that "to my knowledge, no work currently in progress was involved."

On Saturday, after watching her Rockland County, N.Y., home go up in flames, Ms. Morrison said she had lost all her manuscripts and other papers.

But on Sunday, the file cabinets and other batches of papers were salvaged from the basement of the house by workmen under the direction of her 31-year-old son, Ford.

Her son was in the house when the fire started early Saturday morning, apparently from a fireplace spark that ignited a couch. He was not injured.

Yesterday, a spokesman for Princeton University, where the poet and novelist teaches creative writing, said Ms. Morrison might issue a statement. But her attorney said he knew nothing about a statement at this time.

Ms. Morrison has said she intends to donate her papers to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, where she is chairwoman of the advisory board on preserving material.

Ms. Morrison's novel "Beloved" was published in 1987 and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. Two weeks ago she received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Her most recent novel, "Jazz," was published last year.

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