Acclaimed Author bell hooks Dies At 69

Acclaimed Author bell hooks Dies

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bell hooks, a Hopkinsville native who went on to an international career as a hugely influential author, critic, feminist and public intellectual, died on Dec. 15 at her home in Berea. She was 69.

She had been ill and was surrounded by friends and family when she passed, according to a press release from her niece, Ebony Motley.

Gloria Jean Watkins was born on Sept. 25, 1952 in Hopkinsville, Ky. to Veodis and Rosa Bell Watkins, the fourth of seven siblings. She attended segregated schools in Christian County, then went on to Stanford University in California, then earned 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, she told interviewers, in order to emphasize the “substance of books, not who I am.”

She published her first book, “Ain’t I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism” in 1981. Her literary career continued with more than 40 books of including essays, poetry and children’s books. Her topics include feminism, racism, culture, politics, gender roles, love, and spirituality.

In 2004, she returned to Kentucky to teach at Berea College. Another book, “Belonging: A Culture of Place,” discussed her move back.

In 2010, the school opened the bell hooks Institute at Berea College. The institute houses her collection of contemporary African-American art, personal artifacts and copies of her books published in other languages. Read more.

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