Marguerite Ann Johnson was an American writer and poet. She wrote seven autobiographies, five books of essays, and several collections of poetry. Her name was listed among the authors of a number of plays, and movies. Maya Angelou is a winner of numerous awards and over thirty honorary doctorates. The book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, a chronicle of her life up to 16 years, has brought her worldwide fame.
Maya Angelou has been active in the civil rights movement. She worked with Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. In 1993, at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton, she read her poem On the Pulse of the Morning.
Despite attempts to ban her books in some libraries in the United States, her work is widely used in schools and universities around the world. Her books focus on such topics such as racism, women, identity, family, and travel.
Maya Angelou was born on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis. Her father was a nutritionist, and her mother was a nurse. When Maya was three years old, her parents divorced. Father sent Maya and her four brothers to his paternal grandmother, Annie Henderson.
Four years later, Maya’s father brought the kids back to their mother in St. Louis. At the age of eight, Marguerite was sexually abused by her mother’s friend, Freeman. She admitted it to her brother, who in turn told about this to the whole family. Freeman was convicted, but was imprisoned only for one day. Four days after his release, he was killed, probably by Marguerite’s uncle. After the death of Freeman Marguerite was silent for nearly five years, as she believed her voice had killed a man. According to her colleagues Marcia Ann Gillespie, who wrote a biography of Angelou, in this period of silence she developed a love for books and literature, as well as the ability to listen and watch the world.
After Freeman’s murder, Angelou and her brother were sent back to their grandmother. The teacher and family friend Bert Flores helped her to talk. Flores introduced her to such writers as Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, and Douglas Johnson. When Angelou was 14 years old, she and her brother moved in with their mother, who was living in Oakland (CA). Angelou worked as a streetcar conductor in San Francisco, and three weeks after graduation, at age 17, she gave birth to a son, Clyde, who also became a poet.
In the second Angelou’s autobiography Gather Together in My Name, she talks about her life from the age of 17 to 19 years. In this autobiography, she tells the story of the life of a single mother who had to work as a pimp, a cook at a restaurant, and a prostitute.
Marguerite Ann Johnson was an American writer and poet. She wrote seven autobiographies, five books of essays, and several collections of poetry. Her name was listed among the authors of a number of plays, and movies. Maya Angelou is a winner of numerous awards and over thirty honorary doctorates.