Bell Hooks (Real name – Gloria Jean Watkins) was born on September 25, 1952, at Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Hooks was not only an author, she was a professor, feminist and renowned social activist. Her pen name Bell Hooks is borrowed from Bell Blair Hooks, her maternal great-grandmother.
She was born in an African-American working-class family. Her father was a janitor and her mother was a maid in white families. Hooks was always an avid reader and a few of her favorites were Elizabeth Barrett Browning, William Wordsworth, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Langston Hughes. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in English from Stanford University, 1973 and a Master’s from the University of Wisconsin, 1976. During these years she was engaged in writing her first most important work Ain’t I a Woman, which she commenced writing at 19 and finally published in the year 1981. In 1983, she finished her doctorate with a dissertation based on the renowned Toni Morrison, from the University of California.
Her first major work is a huge contribution towards feminism and was concluded as one of the 20 most influential books written by a woman in the last 20 years, in the year 1992 by Publishers Weekly. Bell Hooks book focuses on sensitive aspects like the ancient impact of racism and sexism on black women, the education system, and the role of media, capitalism, patriarchy, racial discrimination, marginalization, and white supremacy. These are the central themes of her literary contribution. During the same time, she flourished and became significant as a cultural critic, postmodern political thinker, and leftist.
Published in 1984, Feminist Theory develops a critique of white feminist racism which was affecting the feminist solidarity across the racial lines. Bell Hooks argued that communication and the capability to think, read and write is vital for the feminist movement because without these abilities people would not comprehend the issue of gender inequality.
All About Love, published in 2000 is more of a self-guided book. It talks about the radical and new processes of displaying affection in public and personal lives. The conventional notions of giving and take when it comes to love often fail us. Hooks provide an understanding of self-love without being narcissistic, that will bring kindness, compassion, and peace to our professional and private lives. This book challenged the prolonged and prevailing notion that the greatest form of love is romantic love.
In her 2004 published book, The Will to Change presents her views on equality and feminism. In the book Hooks talk about how everyone needs to be loved and loved and that does not exclude men. But to comprehend that love men need to look beyond the boundaries of patriarchy that has been set for them, which keeps them far from their emotions. No matter what their marital status, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or age is they have every right to express their emotion because that is what they are primarily – as a human being it is the most natural thing to have emotions. This book is informative and revolutionary because Hooks addresses the fear of men when it comes to losing their place in society if they go against patriarchy and the fear of intimacy.
In the year 2014, The Bell Hooks Institute was created at Berea College and in 2018 she was inducted into the Writers Hall of Fame, Kentucky. Bell Hooks died on December 15, 202,1 at her home in Kentucky due to kidney failure at the age of 69.