Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was raised in Stamps, Arkansas. In addition to her bestselling autobiographies, including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and The Heart of a Woman, she wrote numerous volumes of poetry, among them Phenomenal Woman, And Still I Rise, On the Pulse of Morning, and Mother. Maya Angelou died in 2014.
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Maya Angelou shares her path to living well and with meaning in this absorbing book of personal essays.
 
Dedicated to the daughter she never had but sees all around her, Letter to My Daughter transcends genres and categories: guidebook, memoir, poetry, and pure delight.

Here in short spellbinding essays are glimpses of the tumultuous life that led Angelou to an exalted place in American letters and taught her lessons in compassion and fortitude: how she was brought up by her indomitable grandmother in segregated Arkansas, taken in at thirteen by her more worldly and less religious mother, and grew to be an awkward, six-foot-tall teenager whose first experience of loveless sex paradoxically left her with her greatest gift, a son.

Whether she is recalling such lost friends as Coretta Scott King and Ossie Davis, extolling honesty, decrying vulgarity, explaining why becoming a Christian is a “lifelong endeavor,” or simply singing the praises of a meal of red rice–Maya Angelou writes from the heart to millions of women she considers her extended family.

Like the rest of her remarkable work, Letter to My Daughter entertains and teaches; it is a book to cherish, savor, re-read, and share.

“I gave birth to one child, a son, but I have thousands of daughters. You are Black and White, Jewish and Muslim, Asian, Spanish speaking, Native Americans and Aleut. You are fat and thin and pretty and plain, gay and straight, educated and unlettered, and I am speaking to you all. Here is my offering to you.”—from Letter to My Daughter
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Maya Angelou’s classic memoirs have had an enduring impact on American literature and culture. Her life story is told in the documentary film And Still I Rise, as seen on PBS’s American Masters.

This Modern Library edition contains I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Gather Together in My Name, Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas, The Heart of a Woman, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes, and A Song Flung Up to Heaven.

When I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published to widespread acclaim in 1969, Maya Angelou garnered the attention of an international audience with the triumphs and tragedies of her childhood in the American South. This soul-baring memoir launched a six-book epic spanning the sweep of the author’s incredible life. Now, for the first time, all six celebrated and bestselling autobiographies are available in this handsome one-volume edition.

Dedicated fans and newcomers alike can follow the continually absorbing chronicle of Angelou’s life: her formative childhood in Stamps, Arkansas; the birth of her son, Guy, at the end of World War II; her adventures traveling abroad with the famed cast of Porgy and Bess; her experience living in a black expatriate “colony” in Ghana; her intense involvement with the civil rights movement, including her association with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X; and, finally, the beginning of her writing career.

The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou traces the best and worst of the American experience in an achingly personal way. Angelou has chronicled her remarkable journey and inspired people of every generation and nationality to embrace life with commitment and passion.


From the Hardcover edition.
In this third self-contained volume of her autobiography, which began with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou moves into the adult world, and the white world as well, as she marries, enters show business, and tours Europe and Africa in Porgy and Bess.

As the book opens, Maya, in order to support herself and her young son, gets a job in a record shop run by a white woman. Suspicious of almost any kindness shown her, she is particularly confused by the special attentions of a young white customer. Soon the relationship grows into love and then marriage, and Maya believes a permanent relationship is finally possible. But it is not to be, and she is again forced to look for work.

This time she finds a job as a dancer in a sleazy San Francisco bar. Her remarkable talent, however, soon brings her attention of a different kind, and before long she is singing in one of the most popular nightclubs on the coast. From there, she is called to New York to join the cast of Porgy and Bess, which is just about to begin another tour abroad.

The troupe's joyous and dramatic adventure through Italy, France, Greece, Yugoslavia, and Egypt becomes the centerpiece of Singin' and Swingin'. This remarkable portrayal of one of the most exciting and talented casts ever put together, and of the encounters between these larger-than-life personalities and audiences who had rarely seen black people before, makes a hilarious and poignant story. The excitement of the journey -- full of camaraderie, love affairs, and memorable personalities -- is dampened only by Maya's nagging guilt that she has once again abandoned the person she loves most in life, her son.

Back home, and driven close to suicide by her guilt and concern, she takes her son with her to Hawaii, where she discovers that devotion and love, in spite of forced absence, have the power to heal and sustain.

As always, Maya Angelou's writing is charged with that remarkable sense of life and love and unique celebration of the human condition that have won her such a loyal following.


From the Hardcover edition.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A moving memoir about the legendary author’s relationship with her own mother.

Emma Watson’s Our Shared Shelf Book Club Pick!

The story of Maya Angelou’s extraordinary life has been chronicled in her multiple bestselling autobiographies. But now, at last, the legendary author shares the deepest personal story of her life: her relationship with her mother.

For the first time, Angelou reveals the triumphs and struggles of being the daughter of Vivian Baxter, an indomitable spirit whose petite size belied her larger-than-life presence—a presence absent during much of Angelou’s early life. When her marriage began to crumble, Vivian famously sent three-year-old Maya and her older brother away from their California home to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. The subsequent feelings of abandonment stayed with Angelou for years, but their reunion, a decade later, began a story that has never before been told. In Mom & Me & Mom, Angelou dramatizes her years reconciling with the mother she preferred to simply call “Lady,” revealing the profound moments that shifted the balance of love and respect between them.

Delving into one of her life’s most rich, rewarding, and fraught relationships, Mom & Me & Mom explores the healing and love that evolved between the two women over the course of their lives, the love that fostered Maya Angelou’s rise from immeasurable depths to reach impossible heights.

Praise for Mom & Me & Mom

“Mom & Me & Mom is delivered with Angelou’s trademark good humor and fierce optimism. If any resentments linger between these lines, if lives are partially revealed without all the bitter details exposed, well, that is part of Angelou’s forgiving design. As an account of reconciliation, this little book is just revealing enough, and pretty irresistible.”—The Washington Post

“Moving . . . a remarkable portrait of two courageous souls.”—People

“[The] latest, and most potent, of her serial autobiographies . . . [a] tough-minded, tenderhearted addition to Angelou’s spectacular canon.”—Elle

“Mesmerizing . . . Angelou has a way with words that can still dazzle us, and with her mother as a subject, Angelou has a near-perfect muse and mystery woman.”—Essence
Maya Angelou, one of the best-loved authors of our time shares the wisdom of a remarkable life in this bestselling spiritual classic.

This is Maya Angelou talking from the heart, down to earth and real, but also inspiring. This is a book to be treasured, a book about being in all ways a woman, about living well, about the power of the word, and about the power of spirituality to move and shape your life. Passionate, lively, and lyrical, Maya Angelou’s latest unforgettable work offers a gem of truth on every page.

Maya Angelou speaks out . . .  

On Faith: “I'm taken aback when people walk up to me and tell me they are Christians. My first response is the question 'Already?' It seems to me a lifelong endeavor to try to live the life of a Christian. It is in the search itself that one finds ecstasy.”

On Racism: “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength. We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter their color.”

On Taking Time for Ourselves: “Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us. A day away acts as a spring tonic. It can dispel rancor, transform indecision, and renew the spirit.”

On Death and Grieving: “When I sense myself filling with rage at the absence of a beloved, I try as soon as possible to remember that my concerns should be focused on what I can learn from my departed love. What legacy was left which can help me in the art of living a good life?”

On Style: “Style is as unique and nontransferable and perfectly personal as a fingerprint. It is wise to take the time to develop one's own way of being, increasing those things one does well and eliminating the elements in one's character which can hinder and diminish the good personality.”
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