“Maya Angelou born Marguerite Annie Johnson; April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and was credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of 17 and brought her international recognition and acclaim.
She became a poet and writer after a series of occupations as a young adult, including fry cook, sex worker, nightclub dancer and performer, cast member of the opera Porgy and Bess, coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the decolonization of Africa. She was an actor, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs. In 1982, she earned the first lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement and worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Beginning in the 1990s, she made around 80 appearances a year on the lecture circuit, something she continued into her eighties. In 1993, Angelou recited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” (1993) at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration, making her the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961.
With the publication of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou publicly discussed aspects of her personal life. She was respected as a spokesperson for black people and women, and her works have been considered a defense of black culture. Her works are widely used in schools and universities worldwide although attempts have been made to ban her books from some U. S. libraries. Angelou’s most celebrated works have been labeled as autobiographical fiction, but many critics consider them to be autobiographies. She made a deliberate attempt to challenge the common structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing and expanding the genre. Her books center on themes such as racism, identity, family and travel.”
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- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969). New York: Random House.
- Gather Together in My Name (1974). New York: Random House.
- Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas (1976). New York: Random House.
- The Heart of a Woman (1981). New York: Random House.
- All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986). New York: Random House.
- A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002). New York: Random House.
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou (2004). New York: Modern Library.
- Mom & Me & Mom (2013). New York: Random House.
- Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie (1971). New York: Random House.
- Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well (1975). New York: Random House.
- And Still I Rise (1978). New York: Random House.
- Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing? (1983). New York: Random House.
- Poems (1986). New York: Random House.
- Now Sheba Sings the Song (1987). New York: Plume Books.
- I Shall Not Be Moved (1990). New York: Bantam Books.
- “On the Pulse of Morning” (1993). New York: Random House.
- The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (1994). New York: Random House. I
- Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women (1995). New York: Random House.
- A Brave and Startling Truth (1995). New York: Random House.
- “From a Black Woman to a Black Man”, 1995
- “Amazing Peace” (2005). New York: Random House.
- “Mother: A Cradle to Hold Me” (2006). New York: Random House.
- “Celebrations, Rituals of Peace and Prayer” (2006). New York: Random House.
- Poetry for Young People (2007). Berkshire, U.K.: Sterling Books.
- “We Had Him”, 2009
- “His Day is Done”, 2013
- Cabaret for Freedom, 1960
- The Least of These, 1966
- The Best of These (drama), 1966
- Gettin’ up Stayed on My Mind, 1967
- Sophocles, Ajax (adaptation), 1974
- And Still I Rise (writer/director), 1976
- Moon on a Rainbow Shawl (director), 1978
- Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now (1993). New York: Random House.
- Even the Stars Look Lonesome (1997). New York: Random House.
- Letter to My Daughter (2008). New York: Random House.
- Life Doesn’t Frighten Me (1998). New York: Stewart, Tabori, and Chang.
- My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken and Me (1994). New York: Knopf Books.
- Kofi and His Magic (1996). New York: Knopf Books.
- Maya’s World series (2004). New York: Random House:
- Izak of Lapland,
- Angelina of Italy,
- Renée Marie of France
- Mikale of Hawaii