Meet the Author

Maya Angelou

Portrait of Maya Angelou

Although her career has included many years as an actress, singer, dancer, director, and producer on stage and on television, Maya Angelou is best known for her writing, particularly her autobiographical writing. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, and raised in Stamps, Arkansas, by her grandmother, Angelou suffered tremendous hardships in her childhood and adolescence. By the time she was 17, she had a son and was living in San Francisco, California. There she became the city's first female African American streetcar conductor.

After she started acting, Angelou began to write her own material. This work led her to meet the writer James Baldwin, who heard her tell stories about her childhood and challenged her to write them down. The result was the first volume of her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970), which covers her life up to age 16. Angelou followed this book with four other volumes of her life story, each covering a later period in her life. She is also an acclaimed poet. President Bill Clinton chose her to read her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at his inauguration in 1993.

Maya Angelou sees a single message underlying all her work: People can overcome the obstacles they face. "We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated…. We are much stronger than we appear to be, and maybe much better than we allow ourselves to be."

Photography Credit


Other Books Written by Maya Angelou

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  • Gather Together in My Name
  • Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas
  • The Heart of a Woman
  • All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes
  • Now Sheba Sings the Song
    (illustrated by Tom Feelings)
  • Life Doesn't Frighten Me
    (illustrated by Jean-Michel Basquiat)
  • On the Pulse of Morning
  • Lessons in Living
  • Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now
  • Soul Looks Back in Wonder
    (illustrated by Tom Feelings)
  • Even the Stars Look Lonesome
  • Maya Angelou