bell hooks, the renowned author and social activist, died on Wednesday at her home in Berea, Ky., after an illness. She was 69.
Berea College, where hooks founded the bell hooks Institute, confirmed the news on Wednesday. hooks was known for writing about the intersectionality of race, gender, sexuality and class, and she published numerous novels and scholarly articles about the subject matter during her lifetime. She also appeared in several documentaries, gave lectures at several universities and was most recently a professor of Appalachian studies at Berea College.
hooks was born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, Ky., on September 25, 1952. She received a bachelor’s degree in English from Stanford University in 1973, a master’s in English from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1976 and a doctorate in literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1983.
While she was teaching English and ethnic studies at the University of Southern California, she published her first book of poetry, “And There We Wept,” in 1978 using her pen name, which honors her great-grandmother. She kept her name in lowercase letters to distinguish herself from her great-grandmother and to shift the attention from her identity to her ideas, while intentionally breaking culturally imposed grammar rules.
Her first novel, titled “Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism,” was published in 1981. hooks’ other works include “Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center,” “Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black,” “Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood,” “All About Love: New Visions” and many more novels, essays and children’s books published from the 1980s through the 2010s. She also appeared in the documentaries “Black Is…Black Ain’t,” the blaxploitation doc “Baadasssss Cinema” and more. During her career, she received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, the national book award for fiction and an NAACP Image Award nomination.