Maya Angelou’s Autobiography Series

Panhuman Books — December 5, 2021

Born in 1928 into a difficult family situation, Maya Angelou was raised by her grandmother in poverty-stricken Arkansas. She became a singer, award winning actress, writer, poet, human rights icon, and an inspiration for generations of women and people of color all around the world. From humble beginnings to the heights of iconic fame, Maya Angelou's quotes about women, the African American experience, and life in general continue to touch the hearts and minds of people today. These seven literary works are some of her most well-known and appreciated.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

by Maya Angelou

Her 1969 autobiographical story became the first best seller in the nonfiction lists penned by an African American woman, and it stayed on the charts for two years, which is more than any other nonfiction book ever has. This book offered a symbolic representation of a Black girl's journey through life when faced with racism, family problems, and the search for dignity and personal truth.

Gather Together in My Name

by Maya Angelou

Her next autobiographical work outlined the difficult teenage and young adult years when Maya Angelou worked as a prostitute in California. She struggled to take care of her child while also battling drug addiction. Organized as a series of stories connected by theme, it is a fictionalized account of self-education and actualization in the years following World War II.

Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas

by Maya Angelou

This story from 1976 outlined her career in the entertainment industry and a slightly more uplifting time in her early life. As she journeys with shows through Europe, many things change including her name, her relationship with her son, and her understanding of racial relations outside the American experience.

The Heart of a Woman

by Maya Angelou

Together with her young son, Maya Angelou left behind the difficult times in California for New York City. This part of her personal story includes information about how she became active in the civil rights movement, transition from a focus on motherhood to independence as a woman, and self-discovery.

All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes

by Maya Angelou

In the 1980s, this well-traveled woman spent a few years living in Ghana and helping the people there live better lives. This life story shows more lyrical expression and unique structural decisions on previous books. It is a way to explore her African roots and American experience and the inner struggle to find her true home in a unique and engaging way.

A Song Flung Up to Heaven

by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou's journey back to the United States is described in this 2002 book. This part of her overall autobiographical journey focuses again on the civil rights movement and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, both of whom she had worked with in their efforts to gain rights for people of color.

Mom & Me & Mom

by Maya Angelou

This poignant story looks back on the early years of the abandonment she experienced from her mother and how their relationship went through difficult upheavals on her way toward adulthood.