@ National Portrait Gallery
DescriptionBorn St. Louis, MissouriOne of America’s most important writers and poets, Maya Angelou (born Marguerite Ann Johnson) wrote a series of seven autobiographical novels that are an indelible record of resistance and achievement by African Americans, particularly African American women. Angelou had a difficult and endangered childhood, shuttling back and forth between relatives in the North and South. She suffered from economic hardship and sexual abuse, which she documented in her first book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), and in subsequent volumes. Her subject was always her own life, and her autobiographies are not necessarily strictly factual or literally “true,” but rather a retelling of emotional truths. A politically engaged writer, Angelou was also a poet; she read her poem “On the Pulse of the Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration.
1987 (Printed 2012)
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution