Author and playwright Ntozake Shange died in her sleep in an assisted living facility in Maryland on Saturday. She was 70.

Shange suffered from multiple strokes in recent years, according to published reports. But her health had improved prior to her death.

Shange was born Paulette L. Williams in Trenton, New Jersey in 1948. Thanks to her family’s volunteering in the arts she was surrounded by celebrities, including Miles Davis, Chuck Berry, and W.E.B. Du Bois.

Shange began to write poetry and plays while in college and she was best known for her play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow is Enuf.

The play made its Broadway debut at the Booth Theater in 1976. It has since been adapted into a book and a 2010 Tyler Perry movie.

Shange also wrote the plays Spell No. 7, Lavender Lizards and Lilac Landmines: Layla’s Dream, and others.

Shange is pictured above with Janet Jackson at the premiere of ‘For Colored Girls’ at the Ziegfeld Theatre on October 25, 2010 in New York City.

Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images