Delores Phillips was an American author who is best known for her debut novel, The Darkest Child, which explores the racial dynamics of the 1950s rural South. She was also a poet, a short story writer, and a psychiatric nurse who worked with abused women and children. She died at the age of 63 on June 7, 2014. But what was the cause of her death? And how did her life and work impact the literary world?
## The Cause of Her Death
According to Project MUSE, a scholarly database, Phillips died of cancer after a long battle with the disease[^1^]. She was moved to hospice care in May 2014, and passed away with her sister, daughter, and loved ones by her side[^1^]. Her death was not widely reported in the media, and many of her fans and readers were unaware of her condition until after she was gone.
Phillips's death was a tragic loss for the literary community, especially for those who admired her novel, The Darkest Child, which was published in 2004 by Soho Press. The novel received critical acclaim from various publications, such as Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and The New Leader[^2^] [^3^]. It also won the Black Caucus of the American Library Association's Fiction Award in 2005, and was reissued in 2018 with a new introduction by Tayari Jones, the author of An American Marriage[^2^].
## The Legacy of Her Life and Work
Phillips was born in Georgia in 1950, and grew up in a large family with nine siblings. She experienced poverty, racism, and violence in her childhood, which influenced her writing later in life. She graduated from Cleveland State University and worked as a nurse in a facility for abused women and children in Cleveland[^2^]. She also wrote poetry and short stories, some of which were published in journals such as Jean's Journal, Black Times, and The Crisis[^2^].
Her only novel, The Darkest Child, was based on her own family history and the stories she heard from her mother and grandmother. The novel tells the story of Tangy Mae Quinn, a dark-skinned girl who is one of ten children born to Rozelle, a light-skinned and mentally unstable woman who abuses and exploits her offspring. The novel depicts the harsh realities of life in the Jim Crow era, as well as the complex issues of colorism, classism, and sexism within the black community. The novel also explores the themes of family, identity, survival, and hope, as Tangy Mae struggles to escape from her mother's tyranny and pursue her education.
The novel was praised for its powerful and realistic portrayal of the characters and the setting, as well as its compelling and emotional narrative. Carroll Parrott Blue, writing in the Black Issues Book Review, called the novel "a masterpiece of storytelling" and "a literary tour de force". Randall Kenan, writing in The New Leader, commented that "Phillips sets in motion, and sustains, a devastating series of revelations, confrontations, and acts of violence" and that "one marvels at how Phillips manages to make us care deeply about these people, despite their flaws and sins".
Phillips was working on a second novel, titled Stumbling Blocks and Other Unfinished Work, at the time of her death. The novel was supposed to be a sequel to The Darkest Child, and to follow the lives of Tangy Mae and her siblings in the 1960s and 1970s. However, the novel was never completed or published, and remains a mystery to the public.
Delores Phillips cause of death was cancer, but her life and work were full of vitality and creativity. She was a talented and courageous author who gave voice to the marginalized and oppressed, and who challenged the readers to confront the dark and painful aspects of history and humanity. She was also a compassionate and dedicated nurse who helped the victims of abuse and violence, and who inspired the people around her with her kindness and generosity. She was a star in the literary world, and she will continue to shine in the hearts and minds of her fans, readers, and admirers.