RIP Harold Bloom — Famed Literary Critic Dead At 89

He was called the 'King Kong' of literary criticism.

How Did Harold Bloom Die? New Details On Death Of Celebrated Literary Critic At 89 Getty

Harold Bloom was a literary critic, author and Professor of Humanities at Yale University. He wrote more than 40 books, 20 of which were books on literary criticism, several on religion and a novel. His books have been translated into more than 40 languages. Bloom was also an editor who edited hundreds of anthologies. Bloom gained a reputation for irritating intellectuals by embracing and arguing about his belief that Western literary traditions were superior types of literature; In fact, it was his passion for the Western Canon that he became well-known for. 


Harold Bloom died in a hospital in New Haven, Connecticut on October 14th. Just four days before his death, he was teaching his regular courses at Yale. How did Harold Bloom die?

1. His early life

Harold Bloom was born on July 11, 1930, in New York City. He grew up in the Bronx as an Orthodox Jew in a Yiddish-speaking home. His parents had emigrated from Eastern Europe. Bloom learned to read and write Hebrew. He learned to speak English when he was six. He had three older sisters and an older brother. 


2. His education

When he was a young boy he read Collected Poems by Hart Crane, which set off his lifelong fascination with poetry. He attended the Bronx High School of Science and received his B.A. in Classics from Cornell University in 1951. He got his PhD in 1955 from Yale. He was a Fulbright Scholar at Pembroke College Cambridge during the 1954-55 academic year. 

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3. Photographic memory

In an obituary for Harold Bloom, NPR reported that Bloom had a photographic memory. He claimed he could recite the entire works of Shakespeare (and in fact, his Shakespear seminar at Yale was extremely popular for decades, including right up until his death), all of Paradise Lost by John Milton and big chunks of Romantic poetry. 

4. Yale and his teaching career

Yale University was Bloom's intellectual and professional home from 1955 to 2019. From 1988 to 2004, Bloom also was an English Professor at New York University while still teaching at Yale .


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5. The Book of J

While Bloom has largely been characterized as "old school" and as someone who doesn't understand feminism, he did champion a number of female authors. Additionally, in 1990 he wrote The Book of J, in which he presented the theory that the author of the first Hebrew Bible was a woman in King Soloman's court. 

6. Controversy

In 1990, Bloom was the subject of a GQ article titled Bloom in Love. The article accused him of having a number of affairs with female graduate students. While Bloom decried the piece, calling it a "disgusting piece of character assassination," his friend and collleague R.W.B. Lewis said that:"[Bloom's] wandering, I gather is a thing of the past. I hate to say it, but he rather bragged about it, so that wasn't very secret for a number of years." Allegations continued to dog him over the years. In an article for New York Magazine in 2004, author Naomi Wolf accused Bloom of putting his hand on his inner thigh while she was an undergraduate at Yale in the early 1980s.

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7. Personal life and death

In 1958, Bloom married Jeanne Gould. They had two children. Bloom taught until four days before his death, In fact, he often joked that he'd need to be removed from the classroom "in a great big body bag." He passed away on October 14, 2019 at 89 in a hospital in New Haven, Connecticut. 

Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based writer and editor covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.