I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
By Maya Angelou
One of America's most important classics, the first and best loved volume of Maya Angelou's bestselling seven-volume autobiography
Now the basis of a major Radio 4 drama, Maya Angelou's debut memoir paints a portrait of 'a brilliant writer, a fierce friend and a truly phenomenal woman' (Barack Obama)
Maya Angelou's debut memoir has become an classic beloved worldwide. Her six volumes of autobiography are a testament to the her talents and resilience.. Loving the world, she also knows its cruelty. As a Black woman she has known discrimination and extreme poverty, but also hope, joy, achievement and celebration. In this first volume of her six books of autobiography, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in the American south of the 1930s. She learns the power of the white folks at the other end of town and suffers the terrible trauma of rape by her mother's lover. However, far from being dispiriting, James Baldwin writes, 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity.'
'I write about being a Black American woman, however, I am always talking about what it's like to be a human being. This is how we are, what makes us laugh, and this is how we fall and how we somehow, amazingly, stand up again' Maya Angelou
Dr Maya Angelou was one of the world's most important writers and activists. Born 4 April 1928, she lived and chronicled an extraordinary life: rising from poverty, violence and racism, she became a renowned author, poet, playwright, civil rights' activist - working with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King - and memoirist. She wrote and performed a poem, 'On the Pulse of Morning', for President Clinton on his inauguration; she was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama and was honoured by more than seventy universities throughout the world.
She first thrilled the world with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969). This was followed by six volumes of autobiography, the seventh and final volume, Mom & Me & Mom, published in 2013. She wrote three collections of essays; many volumes of poetry, including His Day is Done, a tribute to Nelson Mandela; and two cookbooks. She had a lifetime appointment as Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University of North Carolina. Dr Angelou died on 28 May 2014.
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- Publication date:
26 Jan 1984
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A brilliant writer, a fierce friend and a truly phenomenal woman — President Barack Obama
The poems and stories she wrote . . . were gifts of wisdom and wit, courage and grace — President Bill Clinton
She moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence and a fierce grace . . . She will always be the rainbow in my clouds — Oprah Winfrey
She was important in so many ways. She launched African American women writing in the United States. She was generous to a fault. She had nineteen talents - used ten. And was a real original. There is no duplicate — Toni Morrison