Books

Legendary author bell hooks, who believed ‘feminism is for everyone’, tragically dies aged 69

Lily Wakefield December 15, 2021
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Black feminist bell hooks

Black feminist bell hooks. (The The Washington Post via Getty/ Margaret Thomas)

On Wednesday (15 December), legendary Black feminist author bell hooks passed away in her home in Berea, Kentucky, at the age of 69.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author and activist, one of the most influential feminist scholars in the US, penned more than 40 books in her lifetime, with her first – Ain’t I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism – published in 1981.

She wrote about feminism, race, class, gender and sexuality among many other topics, and she was one of the first writers to extensively explore intersectional feminism. Her books included essays, poetry and even children’s books.

She taught at Kentucky’s Berea College, which in 2010 open the bell hooks Institute, which she envisioned as a “democratic location” for high-profile figures to come and talk with local people, according to the Lexington Herald Leader.

The institute is also home to her personal collection of artefacts and African-American art, as well as her books “is an inclusive space where historically underrepresented students can come to be as they are, outside of the social scripts that circumscribe their living”.

According to the institute: “We curate programs, collaborations and events that affirm these students’ sense of self and belonging – on campus and in the world.

“Our work is motivated by bell hooks’ famous insights that ‘patriarchy has no gender’ and that, therefore, ‘feminism is for everybody’.”

hooks’ family released a statement, in which they said that she died with “family and friends by her side”.

They continued: “The family is honoured that Gloria received numerous awards, honours, 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.”

The family asked that contributions and memorials be made to the Christian County Literacy Council via Paypal or the Museums of Historic Hopkinsville Christian County.

bell hooks
bell hooks poses for a portrait on 16 December, 1996, in New York City. (Getty/ Karjean Levine)

The world mourns bell hooks: ‘How fortunate the world was to have had her in it’

As the world learned of bell hooks’ death, tributes to her life and legacy flooded social media.

Roxane Gay described her passing as an “incalculable loss”, while journalist Mona Eltahawy tweeted: “I am deeply saddened. This is devastating. bell hooks is one of my feminist guiding stars. Rest in power and peace.”

Bolu Babalola, author of Love in Colour, wrote: “I am heartbroken. bell hooks’ words helped to make me the writer I am, taught me that there is no shame in centring love and tenderness, in approaching and embracing it. With ferocity. She is an everlasting force and blessing, may she rest in perfect peace.”

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