Bell Hooks – the beloved poet, author, feminist and professor – has died, announced Berea College, the university where she taught, on Wednesday. She was 69.
“Berea College is deeply saddened by the death of Bell Hooks, Distinguished Professor in Residence in Appalachian Studies, prodigious author, public intellectual and one of the nation’s foremost feminist scholars,” the college wrote.
Hooks died at her home after a “prolonged illness,” according to Berea College.
Known for her writing on race, gender and sexuality, Hooks has published more than 30 books throughout her life, including 1981’s Ain’t I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism” and “All About Love” in 1999.
Throughout her life, Hook’s commitment to accessible feminist theory remained strong. In an interview with the 2015 New York TimesHooks stated that their main intention was “to produce a theory that people can use”.
“I have this phrase I use, ‘work with the work,'” Hooks said. “So if someone comes to me and has one of those Bell Hooks books that’s abused and battered and every page underlined, I know they worked with the work. And that’s where it is for me.”
Her work influenced contemporary writers, many of whom shared their grievances on social media after the announcement.
“As a first-generation college student, Bell Hooks was the first writer I met about academia whose work I could enthusiastically discuss with friends and family *outside* academia.” wrote Saeed Jones, author of the award-winning memoir How We Fight for Our Lives. “My mom and I read Bell Hooks together. I will always appreciate the way their work bridges shores.”
“Oh my heart. Bellhook. May she rest in power. Her loss is incalculable.” wrote Roxane GayAuthor of Bad Feminist.
“My heart is broken. The words of Bell Hooks helped shape me into the writer I am and taught me that there is no shame in emphasizing love and tenderness, in approaching it and to accept them with ferocity”, wrote Bolu Babalola, author of “Love in Color”. “She is an eternal force and blessed may she rest in perfect peace.”
Hooks was born Gloria Jean Watkins in Hopkinsville, Kentucky and received her pen name from her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks. She has received numerous awards throughout her career and has taught at several universities, most recently at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky.