Poet, Author and Civil Rights Activist Maya Angelou Has Died, aged 86
28th May 2014
The death has been announced of Maya Angelou following a short illness.
She wrote seven autobiographies, including the 1969 memoir that made her name, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and was a playwright, director, actor, singer, songwriter and novelist. Raised largely by her grandmother, she had many early trials to overcome, including growing up in the segregated deep south, being raped as a child by her mother's boyfriend who was subsequently killed by a mob, an incident that caused her to remain mute for five years, and becoming a teenage mother.
A statement from Wake Forest University, where Angelou had been professor of American studies since 1982, said: 'Dr Angelou was a national treasure whose life and teachings inspired millions around the world.'
She received more than 50 awards, including the US's highest civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her poem 'On the Pulse of the Morning', written for Bill Clinton's first inauguration at which she read it herself, sold more than a million copies in the US.
As well as receiving scores of awards for her writing, she was also nominated for an Emmy for her role in Roots as Kunta Kinte's grandmother, and directed the film, Down in the Delta. She was also nominated for a Tony Award in 1973, won three Grammys for her spoken-word albums and received an honorary National Book Award in 2013.