Maya Angelou Biography: Maya Angelou is a notable American poet and author. She is most well known for
her series of autobiographical books that tell the story of her life from
childhood into early adulthood. Those years covered the Great Depression through
the Civil Rights Era.
A Maya Angelou biography reads
like an American history lesson since she lived during such a pivotal time and
was active in current events of the day. In her books, she also shares her
struggles with racism, single parenthood, and her search for identity.
Maya Angelou Biography - Early Life
Maya Angelou was born on April 4,
1928 in St. Louis.
When she was three years old, her parents split up and sent
the young Mays and her brother to live with their grandmother. The grandmother
owned a profitable general store and was one of the few people living a
prosperous life during the Great Depression.
When Maya Angelou was eight
years old, she was sent back to live with her mother. Her mother's boyfriend
sexually assaulted Angelou and he was later murdered, presumably by one of
Angelou's uncles. The incident left Maya Angelou mute for a period of years.
According to a Maya Angelou biography written by Marcia Ann Gillespie, it
was during this time of silence that Angelou developed her love of literature
and her sense of introspection. A teacher introduced Angelou to classic works of
literature, and that helped her to recover and eventually speak again.
Maya Angelou Biography -Young Adulthood
Angelou held a variety of
jobs once she entered adulthood. She worked as a streetcar conductor, prostitute
manager, singer, dancer, and cook. She was a single mother, struggling to raise
a son alone with no education or training for a career. She also had to fight
racism that was prevalent at the time. Eventually, she became a popular
nightclub singer and dancer, and even put out an album.
In 1959, Maya
Angelou moved to New York and joined the Harlem Writers Guild where she met
notable African-American writers that influenced her work.
Angelou moved to Africa with her son to explore her African roots. While there,
she met Malcolm X and helped him with his civil rights cause. Her son remained
in Africa when she decided to return to America.
Once back in the United
States, Angelou stayed active in the civil rights movement and began her writing
career in earnest.
Maya Angelou Biography - Later Life
Angelou lived during some of the defining moments in modern American history.
Race, motherhood, and the search for self, became common themes in her work.
Her autobiographies became bestsellers, and are found in many schools today.
They tell the personal story of a strong creative girl who grew up in one of the
most tumultuous periods of American history. Her life was equally tumultuous,
but she eventually found fame and recognition for her creative spirit.
Angelou has received numerous distinguished awards for her writing and her
contribution to American culture. In 1993, she was chosen to recite one of her
poems at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton. The notoriety she received
as a result of this honor, introduced her to a new generation of readers, and
reignited her popularity.
More and more books are also becoming available as ebooks and
Here are a few links to some of the most popular ebook readers on
Maya Angelou Biography and Maya Angelou
Books - In Her Words
||• "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" was published in
1969. Today it is available as a book, audio book, and ebook. This is the first
book in a series of autobiographies written by Maya Angelou. In it, the author
tells about the events of her life from the age of three to seventeen. She was
sent to live with her grandmother and endured feelings of abandonment, racism,
and trauma. When she discovered William Shakespeare and the love of reading and
writing, she overcame her feelings of inferiority and rose above her adversities
rather than let them rule her life.
If you click on the image to the left
it will open a new tab/window on Amazon.com, where users
have given this book 4 stars out of 5.
The book can
also be bought as an ebook in the flexible Amazon Kindle
format (which works on PC, Mac, Android smartphone & tablet,
iPad and iPhone) - to check out the Kindle ebook on
Amazon.com, please click this link: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
||• "Gather Together in my Name" is the
second in the series of Maya Angelou autobiographies and it was published in
1974. This work is available as a book, ebook, and audio book. This Maya Angelou
biography tells of her descent into poverty and crime as a young mother. It is
set at the end of World War II, when the author was seventeen to nineteen years
of age. She had become a mother and struggled to find herself by working through
job after job, and waiting for her knight in shinning armor to arrive.
"Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas" is a book and ebook that
was published in 1976. It covers the years 1949 to 1955 when Angelou was in her
early twenties. During this time, Angelou started a career in the entertainment
business but still struggled to support her son, find herself, find love, and
overcome obstacles associated with racism.
If you click on the image to
the left it will open a new tab/window on Amazon.com, where
users have given this book 4.5 stars out of 5.
||• "The Heart of a Woman" was
published in 1981. This Maya Angelou autobiography covers the years from 1957 to
1962, and is considered one of the top books written by Angelou. In this Maya
Angelou biography, her son is now a teenager, and the story follows their lives
as they travel around the world. During this period, Angelou became a published
author and became active in the civil rights movement. At the book's end, her
son leaves for college and Angelou looks forward to a life of renewed
independence as her son begins a new life, but his fate was to be involved in a
serious car crash.
||• "All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes" is a book,
audio book, and ebook that was published in 1986 and is the fifth in the series
of Maya Angelou autobiographies. This work covers Angelou's life in her early
thirties and deals with her recurring themes of motherhood, identity, and race.
Angelou describes her wish to go home to Africa, but finds it difficult to fit
in. In the end, she leaves her son in Ghana and she heads back to the United
||• "A Song Flung Up to Heaven" is the last book in the
autobiographical series by Maya Angelou. It was published in 2002 and is
available as a book, ebook, and audio book. This book covers the years from 1965
to 1968 and in it Angelou describes how the civil rights movement during that
time affected her life, particularly the assassinations of Martin Luther King
Jr. and Malcolm X. Angelou also discusses her literary career and ends the book
as she is beginning her first autobiography, "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings."
Maya Angelou Biography - Angelou today
Maya Angelou continues to
write poetry books and has several collections in print. Angelou is also known
to be a very accomplished cook and has two cookbooks on the market.
has been a university professor, actor, and film director, and she maintains a
very active lifestyle as a lecturer and political activist. More importantly,
she has been an inspiration to millions of her readers.
As pretty much
any Maya Angelou biography shows, she overcame great adversity and went on to
live a spectacular and fulfilling life.
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