Gloria Jean Watkins, better known as bell hooks, died Wednesday at her home in Berea, Kentucky, surrounded by friends and family, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
hooks was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky on September 25, 1952.
She attended segregated schools in Kentucky, then earned a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in California, a master’s in English at the University of Wisconsin and a doctorate in literature at the University of California at Santa Cruz. She adopted her great-grandmother’s name as her pen name in lower case letters in order to put the focus on the “substance of books, not who I am,” she told interviewers.
Her first book, “Ain’t I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism,” was published in 1981. She was the author of more than 40 books, including collections of essays, poetry and children’s books. She addressed a wide range of cultural issues including feminism, racism, gender roles, spirituality and more.
A celebration of life will be announced at a later date.
hooks’ family said that contributions and memorials can be made to the Christian County Literacy Council, which promotes reading for children, or the Museums of Historic Hopkinsville Christian County where a biographical exhibit is on display.