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Maya Angelou Biography | Facts | Parents | Dead

Maya Angelou (born April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) was a well-known American poet, civil rights activist, and memoirist. She is recognized for a large number of plays, films and television shows spanning over 50 years, in addition to having published seven autobiographies, three books of essays and several books of poetry. She has received more than 50 honorary degrees in addition to other honors. The seven books in her autobiography series, which focus on her formative years and early adulthood, are what made Angelou famous. His first book, I know why the caged bird sings (1969), which depicts his life up to the age of 17, won him worldwide praise and notoriety.

Biography of Maya Angelou

Full name :

Marguerite Annie Johnson

Date of birth :

April 4, 1928

Date of death :

May 28, 2014

Place of birth :

St. Louis, Missouri, USA

Occupation :

Writer | Poet | civil rights activist

Active years :



Tosh Angelos (1951 – 1954).
Paul du Feu (1974 – 1983)

Children :

Guy Angelou

Youth and education

Angelou was born on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri. Angelou had a difficult upbringing. She and her older brother, Bailey, were taken to live with their father’s mother, Anne Henderson, in Stamps, Arkansas, when their parents divorced when she was very young.

Racial prejudice and discrimination was something African American Angelou personally encountered in Arkansas. Around the age of 7, she was also the victim of a family member: Angelou’s mother’s lover sexually assaulted her during a visit to her mother’s house. The boyfriend was killed by Angelou’s uncles in retaliation for the sexual assault. Angelou stopped talking after being so shocked by the event. She returned to Arkansas and remained essentially silent for years.

Angelou moved to San Francisco, California during World War II. She received a scholarship to the California Labor School where she was able to study theater and dance.

During this time, Angelou also became the first black female cable car driver in San Francisco, a position she held only temporarily.


Maya Angelou had various odd jobs as a young adult before discovering her vocation as a poet and writer. Among them were a fry cook, a sex worker, a nightclub entertainer, a cast member of Porgy and Bess, a coordinator of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and a correspondent in Egypt and Ghana during the African independence.

Besides acting, writing, directing, and producing plays, movies, and public television shows, Maya Angelou has also worked as a producer. She was appointed the first Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Winston-Salem, Wake Forest University in North Carolina, in 1982. She collaborated with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. throughout her career as a political activist. civil rights movement.

Maya began making around 80 appearances a year on the conference circuit in the 1990s and continued to do so until she was in her nineties. The first poet to do an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961 was Maya Angelou, who read his poem “On the Pulse of Morning” (1993) in 1993 at John F. Kennedy’s first inauguration. Bill Clinton.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was Angelou’s first foray into an open discussion about his private life. Her works were seen as a defense of black culture and she was valued as a voice for black people and women.

Despite attempts to ban his books from some American libraries, his writings are widely used in schools and institutions around the world. Although many critics believe them to be autobiographies, Angelou’s most renowned works have been classified as autobiographical fiction.

She intentionally set out to subvert the typical autobiographical format by critiquing, modifying and expanding the genre. She writes on topics such as racism, identity, family and travel.


A total of seven autobiographies have been written by Angelou. Scholar Mary Jane Lupton claims that Angelou’s third autobiography Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas was the first third volume of an established African-American autobiography.

From Arkansas to Africa and back to the United States, his writings “extend in time and space”, covering events from the start of World War II to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes, his fifth autobiography, was published in 1986. Angelou describes his return to Ghana in order to learn more about the history of his tribe. In 2013, at the age of 85, she released her sixth autobiography, Mom & Me & Mom.

Angelou’s successive autobiographies have generally been assessed “in light of firsts” by critics, with Caged Bird garnering the highest accolades. Hilton Als, a writer, described Angelou’s five collections of essays as “books of wisdom” and “homilies tied to autobiographical prose”.

Robert Loomis, a Random House editor who retired in 2011 and was called “one of the editors in the Publishing Hall of Fame,” served as Angelou’s editor during his literary career. We have a pretty famous relationship among publishers, Angelou remarked of Loomis.


Although Angelou wrote a number of books of poetry, the best known being 1971’s Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Die, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Other well-known poetry anthologies by Angelou include:

  • 1971: “Just Give Me a Glass of Cool Water ‘Before I Die’ (1971)
  • 1975: Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well, which includes Angelou’s poem “Alone”
  • 1978: And Still I Rise, which features the beloved poem “Phenomenal Woman”
  • 1983: Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing?
  • 1990: I Shall Not Be Moved, with the poem “Human Family”
  • 1997: Even the Stars Look Lonely
  • 1993: “On the pulse of the morning”

This poem by Maya Angelou, one of her best-known pieces, was written especially for and presented at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration ceremony in January 1993. Since Robert Frost read his poem “The Gift Outright “At the 1961 inauguration of John F. Kennedy, it was the first inaugural reading. For the audio version of the poem, Angelou won a Grammy Award (Best Spoken Word Album). Other well-known poems by Angelou include:

  • 1962: His Day Is Done, a tribute poem Angelou wrote for Nelson Mandela while on his secret trip from Africa to London
  • 2005: Amazing Peace, written by Angelou for the White House Tree Lighting Ceremony

Private life

Guy Angelou was born in 1944, when Maya Angelou was 16 years old. She held several jobs after giving birth to help support herself and her child. Maya Angelou’s son Guy Johnson is also a poet.

After marrying Greek sailor Anastasios Angelopoulos in 1952, Angelou adopted his surname, which she combined with her childhood nickname, “Maya”, to create her professional name. Later, the couple divorced.

Known for keeping her marriages private, Angelou was likely married at least three times, including to a carpenter named Paul du Feu in 1973.

Achievements and awards

Many accolades have been bestowed on Angelou throughout her career, including the 1998 People’s Choice Award from the Chicago International Film Festival and a nomination for Down in the Delta from the 1999 Acapulco Black Film Festival.

Additionally, she received two NAACP Image Awards in the Best Literary Work (Non-Fiction) category for Letter to My Daughter 2008 and her 2005 cookbook.


After dealing with health issues for some time, Angelou died on May 28, 2014 at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. News of his departure spread quickly and many people expressed their grief and remembered Angelou on social media. Among those who tweeted their favorite words of her in remembrance were singer Mary J. Blige and the politician Cory Booker.

Additionally, Angelou was praised in a statement by President Barack Obama, who was “a truly extraordinary woman, a brilliant writer and a fierce friend. It was Angelou’s gift to serve as a constant reminder that we are all children of God and we all have something to contribute,” he composed.

In May 2021, it was announced that Angelou would be one of the first women to be commemorated with a new set of quarters from the U.S. Mint.

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