Author bell hooks has died at the age of 69, her family and publisher said in a statement Wednesday.
Born Gloria Jean Watkins, hooks was best known for her writing on Black identity, feminism and intersectionality.
“The family of bell hooks is sad to announce the passing of our sister, aunt, great aunt and great great aunt,” hooks’ family said in the statement. “The family is honored that Gloria received numerous awards, honors, and international fame for her works as poet, author, feminist, professor, cultural critic, and social activist. We are proud to just call her sister, friend, confidant, and influencer.”
Her family did not release a cause of death, but said she had friends and family by her side.
Born and raised in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, hooks dedicated much of her work and scholarship to her experience as a Black woman in America. Her pen name, purposefully left lowercase, was a tribute to her maternal great-grandmother Bell Blair Hooks, according to her family.
In 1978, hooks published her first book of poems, “And There We Wept.” Her most famous book, “Ain’t I a Woman,” named after Sojourner Truth’s speech, explored how the portrayal and understanding of Black women in modern media is a symptom of sexism and racism toward Black womanhood.
Throughout her career, hooks published over 40 books about feminism and cultural criticism that have been translated into over 15 languages, her family said. She hosted classes and seminars at schools like Stanford and Yale, all while continuing to publish articles and essays on culture and the patriarchy.
In 2004, hooks took a faculty position at Berea College. Nine years later, the school created the bell hooks institute to preserve her legacy, according to Berea. In 2015, hooks gave the institute her notes, papers and manuscripts, which spanned years of research and her storied writing career.
She was also named one of TIME’s 2020 “100 Women of the Year.” In March 2021, hooks’ book “All About Love” re-entered the New York Times paperback nonfiction best-seller list, almost two decades after it was first published.
“A generous heart is always open, always ready to receive our going and coming,” hooks worte. “In the midst of such love we need never fear abandonment. This is the most precious gift true love offers – the experience of knowing we always belong.”
Fans and colleagues of hooks grieved the writer’s loss Wednesday.
“William Morrow Publishers mourns the loss of bell hooks, New York Times best-selling author, cherished teacher, public intellectual, cultural critic and visionary,” hooks’ lifelong publisher said in a statement.
“Oh my heart,” author Roxane Gay tweeted. “bell hooks. May she rest in power. Her loss is incalculable.”