Biography of bell hooks

Gloria Jean Watkins, best known by her pen name bell hooks, was an American author, professor, feminist, and social activist.

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Early life

Bell Hooks was born on the 25th of September 1952. She took her maternal grandmother’s name because she “admired” her “snappy and strong tongue.” Her pen name’s unique lowercasing was part of the feminist movement of the 1970s.

Bell hooks was one of six children born to Rosa Bell Watkins and Veodis Watkins. Her father worked as a janitor while her mother was a maid serving white people. In her memoir Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood, Watkins recalls her “struggle to develop self and identity” while growing up in “a rich magical world of southern black culture that was often paradisiacal and at other times terrifying”.


Bell hooks attended a segregated public school until the late 1960s when she went to an integrated school. She attended Hopkinsville High School before attending Stanford University, where she obtained her BA in English in1973, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she earned her MA in English in 1976.


In 1981, the book Aint I a Woman, Black Women and Feminism was released. It was designated one of the twentieth most significant women’s books by Publishers Weekly in 1992. The book examined how sexism and racism have affected black women throughout history. It also investigates the concept of a white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

Communication and literacy (the capacity to read, write, and think critically), as hooks claimed, are essential for the feminist movement because, without them, individuals may not advance to see gender disparities in society.

Hooks grew to recognition as a leftist and postmodern political thinker, as well as a cultural critic. She published approximately 30 books on a variety of issues, including black males, patriarchy, and masculinity, as well as self-help, active pedagogy, personal memoirs, and sexuality (in regards to feminism and politics of aesthetics and visual culture).

In her 2008 book, Belonging: A Culture of Place, she interviews author Wendell Berry and discusses her return to Kentucky. She was a New School scholar in residence three times, most recently in 2014. In addition, in 2014, Berea College established the Bell Hooks Institute, to which she gave her papers in 2017.

The Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame inducted her in 2018.


Hooks died on December 15, 2021, at the age of 69, from renal failure at her home in Berea, Kentucky.

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