Video report by ITV News Correspondent Neil Connery
Her publisher Alfred A Knopf said Morrison died on Monday night at Montefiore Medical Centre in New York.
She was the first black woman to receive the Nobel Prize for literature, awarded in 1993.
"Toni Morrison passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends," the family announced.
"She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt who reveled in being with her family and friends.
"The consummate writer who treasured the written word, whether her own, her students or others, she read voraciously and was most at home when writing."
Morrison was nearly 40 when her first novel, "The Bluest Eye," was published.
By her early 60s, after just six novels, she had become the first black woman to receive the Nobel literature prize, praised in 1993 by the Swedish academy for her "visionary force" and for her delving into "language itself, a language she wants to liberate" from categories of black and white.
In 2019 she was featured in an acclaimed documentary, "Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am."
The Swedish academy hailed her use of language and her "visionary force".
Her novel Beloved, in which a mother makes a tragic choice to murder her baby to save the girl from slavery, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988.