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

Ellen DeGeneres returning to stand-up comedy with Netflix special

The 'funniest person in America' returns

by Nicola Colyer
26 May 2017

Homeless man who helped injured in Manchester attack offered rent

“He’s helped a lot of people, if I can help him, that’s really it.”

by Amy Swales
25 May 2017

Bataclan survivor offers words of hope to Manchester attack witnesses

“I want to tell you something that may seem hard to believe right now: it gets better.”

by Amy Swales
25 May 2017

The best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From antics in Cannes to Reese Witherspoon's mother-son selfie

by Nicola Colyer
25 May 2017

Diane Kruger says she’s “never been paid as much as a male co-star”

She's been working in Hollywood for 16 years. Just let that sink in.

by Moya Crockett
25 May 2017

Elizabeth Banks is directing a Charlie’s Angels reboot

And it’s finally got an official release date

by Moya Crockett
25 May 2017

Millennials, Helen Mirren has shared her top 5 rules for a happy life

And they're seriously badass

by Kayleigh Dray
24 May 2017

Melania Trump once again refuses to hold her husband's hand on camera

President Donald Trump has tried to grab his wife’s hand twice on camera – and been expertly swatted away each time

by Kayleigh Dray
24 May 2017

People share messages of defiance after Manchester terror attack

“Don't be afraid. Dance until you're dizzy”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
23 May 2017

The Royal Family thank people of Manchester following terror attack

“I would like to express my admiration for the way the people of Manchester have responded”

by Amy Swales
23 May 2017