Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Maya Angelou dies aged 86

maya.jpg
rexfeatures-555835am.jpg
maya-2.jpg

Author and poet Maya Angelou has died aged 86. According to early reports she was found unresponsive in her home Winston-Salem, North Carolina today.

Her death comes days after canceling her appearance at the Major League Baseball Beacon Awards luncheon, where she was to be honoured.

Born as Marguerite Ann Johnson, in 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri, Angelou was perhaps best known for her series of autobiographies, of which she wrote seven, including the trailblazing I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. It discussed many subjects, mainly her youth growing up in segregated south America but also she was the first to talk about child rape, which spoke to women all over the world.

As well as her autobiographies, she wrote three books of essays, several poetry books, as well as plays, movies and television shows over many years. Angelou did a number of jobs as a teenager, including working as a cook and a cast member of Porgy & Bess.

Since 1982, she has taught at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she holds the first lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies.

Angelou was also a key voice in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1962 while she was living in Accra, Ghana with her son Guy, she met Malcolm X during one of his early visits to the country. As a result of that meeting, in 1965 she returned to the US to help him build a new civil rights organization, the Organization of Afro-American Unity. Not long afterwards, he was assassinated, which devastated the author.

Then in 1968, Martin Luther King asked Angelou to help organise a march, however, King was then assassinated too, this time on her 40th birthday (April 4). Again, Angelou was devastated but this time, she managed to continue her work and produced Blacks, Blues, Black!, a ten-part series of documentaries about the connection between blues music and black Americans' African heritage for National Educational Television. It was not long after this that she wrote her seminal work I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

Since the 1990s she has made around eighty appearances a year on the lecture circuit, something she continued into her eighties. In 1993, Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at President Bill Clinton's inauguration, the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961.

There are no details on her funeral as of yet.

Related

femalpioneers.jpg

Revolutionary pioneers

feminism-hero.jpg

The Stylist Feminist Manifesto

bookher3.jpg

Inspirational Quotes From Female Writers

HERO.jpg

The world's most influential women

hero.jpg

Ten spectacular and easy ways to arrange your books

hero.jpg

This summer's best beach books and holiday reads

Comments

More

The best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From Lupita Nyong'o's dreamy holiday to Lena Dunham's defiant message

by Nicola Colyer
20 Jul 2017

Lana Del Rey is changing her aesthetic because of Donald Trump

"I’m not going to have the American flag waving while I’m singing Born to Die."

by Moya Crockett
20 Jul 2017

BBC ever so politely shuts down backlash over first female Doctor Who

Some “unhappy” viewers contacted the broadcaster about Jodie Whittaker’s casting

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Jul 2017

“I have my demons”: Neelam Gill on racism, modelling and mental health

Stylist’s cover star is outspoken, honest and on the up

by Anita Bhagwandas
19 Jul 2017

Actresses who have braved playing iconic women from history

As Felicity Jones signs up to play Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we take a look at other movie stars who have played real-life legends

by Moya Crockett
19 Jul 2017

Madonna launches legal battle to get her Tupac breakup letter back

The emotional letter was set to go up for auction – but Madonna says it was taken without her consent

by Moya Crockett
19 Jul 2017

Kate Middleton’s honest response to being called “perfect”

The Duchess of Cambridge isn’t here for the myth of perfection

by Kayleigh Dray
18 Jul 2017

Christine Bleakley is over people asking when she’s going to have kids

“Everyone seems to be fascinated by my body clock…”

by Kayleigh Dray
17 Jul 2017

Woman cancels her wedding and invites homeless people to the party

“It’s a great opportunity to spread love.”

by Moya Crockett
17 Jul 2017

“How pathetic sexists tried to tear down the first female Doctor Who”

Misogynists are terrified of Jodie Whittaker and everything she represents

by Kayleigh Dray
17 Jul 2017