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Shere Hite, Who Challenged Myths of Female Sexuality, Dies at 77

The New York Times caught up with her in Germany in 1996 in the apartment she shared with her German husband, Friedrich Horicke, a pianist, in Cologne. “The hunted look she had during her last years in the United States has long gone,” The Times wrote, “and she has regained her sense of humor — but only because she is, at last, being taken seriously.”

Shirley Diana Gregory was born on Nov. 2, 1942, in Saint Joseph, Mo., to Paul and Shirley (Hurt) Gregory. Her mother was 16 at the time, and her father was a serviceman. The marriage ended soon after World War II did. When her mother remarried, Shirley took the surname of her stepfather, Raymond Hite, a truck driver who had adopted her, and started calling herself Shere (pronounced share). After that marriage failed, Shere was raised chiefly by her grandparents, and when they divorced in the mid-1950s, she went to live with an aunt in Florida.

Ms. Hite received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from the University of Florida at Gainesville in the mid-1960s. She attended graduate school at Columbia, where she started to work toward a doctorate in social history but left when she was told that she could not write her dissertation on female sexuality.

Ms. Hite married Mr. Horicke, who was 19 years her junior, in 1985 in New York. She moved to Europe with him in 1989, and after relinquishing her American passport in 1995, she became a German citizen. They later divorced, and she settled in north London with her second husband, Mr. Sullivan, who is her only immediate survivor.

Ms. Hite lectured at universities around the world and wrote several more books, including a memoir, “The Hite Report on Hite: A Sexual and Political Autobiography” (2000). It was her attempt to set the record straight about her life and work and answer her critics.

In its review of the memoir, The Guardian lamented that a woman who had set out to defy sexism had been condemned as vain and narcissistic.

“Strip away the sneers,” the newspaper wrote, “and what really scares people about Hite is the fact that she is a beautiful, clever, sexy, self-made woman.”

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