Beloved is a 1987 novel by the American writer Toni Morrison. Set after the American Civil War (1861–65), it is inspired by the life of Margaret Garner, an African American who escaped slavery in Kentucky in late January 1856 by crossing the Ohio River to Ohio, a free state. Captured, she killed her child rather than have her taken back into slavery.
Morrison had come across an account of Garner, "A Visit to the Slave Mother who Killed Her Child" in an 1856 newspaper article published in the American Baptist, and reproduced in The Black Book, a miscellaneous compilation of black history and culture that Morrison edited in 1974.
The novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 and was a finalist for the 1987 National Book Award. It was adapted as a 1998 movie of the same name, starring Oprah Winfrey. A New York Times survey of writers and literary critics ranked it as the best work of American fiction from 1981 to 2006.