Beloved is a 1987 novel by the American writer Toni Morrison. Set after the American Civil War (1861–1865), it is inspired by the story of an African-American slave, Margaret Garner, who escaped slavery in Kentucky late January 1856 by fleeing to Ohio, a free state. In the novel, the main protagonist Sethe is also a slave who escapes slavery, running to Cincinnati, Ohio. After twenty-eight days of freedom, a posse arrives to retrieve her and her children under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which gave slave owners the right to pursue slaves across state borders. Sethe kills her two-year-old daughter rather than allow her to be recaptured and taken back to Sweet Home, the Kentucky plantation from which Sethe recently fled. A woman presumed to be her daughter, called Beloved, returns years later to haunt Sethe's home at 124 Bluestone Road, Cincinnati, Ohio. The story opens with an introduction to the ghost: "124 was spiteful. Full of a baby's venom."
The novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 and was a finalist for the 1987 National Book Award. It was adapted during 1998 into a movie of the same name starring Oprah Winfrey. A New York Times survey of writers and literary critics ranked it the best work of American fiction from 1981 to 2006.
The book's dedication reads "Sixty Million and more," dedicated to the Africans and their descendants who died as a result of the Atlantic slave trade. The book's epigraph is Romans 9:25.