Acclaimed author and activist bell hooks died Dec. 15 at age 69.
The writer (real name: Gloria Jean Watkins) was born in 1952 in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, per NBC News. Her first published work, a book of poems titled "And There We Wept," was released in 1978. She went on to publish her first book, Ain't I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism, in 1981.
Her pen name was an homage to her great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks.
Her work includes approximately 40 books, many of which focused on feminism and race. She was the winner of several honors, including the Writer's Award from the Lila-WallaceReader's Digest Fund. According to USA Today, hooks also won the American Book Award in 1991 for Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics. In 2013, she was honored with the Best Poetry Award by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association for Appalachian Elegy: Poetry and Place.
Many writers posted tributes to hooks on social media. "Oh my heart. bell hooks," wrote Roxane Gay. "May she rest in power. Her loss is incalculable."
"She was an intellectual giant, spiritual genius & freest of persons! We shall never forget her!" tweeted writer/activist Cornel West, calling her "very dear sister bell hooks."