bell hooks, Author, Professor, Feminist, 1952–2021
December 16, 2021
AWP joins the writing and academic community and the Watkins family in mourning the passing of Gloria Jean Watkins, whose work under the pen name bell hooks electrified modern discourse around race, capitalism, and identity.
She adopted her pen name in honor of her great-grandmother, and her writing and teaching reinforced the value she held in gleaning from Black heritage. Her inclusive feminist theory work reflected the worth she held in elevating women of all ethnic, social, and economic backgrounds.
Her first published chapbook of poems, And There We Wept, was released in 1978. Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, which she began work on around the age of 19, was published in 1981. She followed it up with a dissertation on Toni Morrison to complete her doctorate in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz two years later and dedicated much of her life to teaching at institutions such as the University of Southern California, Oberlin, Yale, the City College of New York, Berea College, and her doctoral alma mater.
Her monumental achievements and power of language have been recognized in nominations for the National Book Award for Fiction, the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the NAACP Image Award, and many more accolades. She is widely considered one of the leading intellectuals and most influential women of the twentieth century.
We grieve the loss of her bright light, but we continue to give thanks for the myriad ways she illuminated the literary world through her brilliant writing and legacy, which lives on.