Maya Angelou, "Phenomenal Woman"/Angelou's works

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Angelou wrote a total of seven autobiographies. According to scholar Mary Jane Lupton, Angelou's third autobiography Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas marked the first time a well-known African-American autobiographer had written a third volume about her life. Her books "stretch over time and place", from Arkansas to Africa and back to the U.S., and take place from the beginnings of World War II to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. She published her seventh autobiography Mom & Me & Mom in 2013, at the age of 85. Critics have tended to judge Angelou's subsequent autobiographies "in light of the first", with Caged Bird receiving the highest praise. Angelou wrote five collections of essays, which writer Hilton Als called her "wisdom books" and "homilies strung together with autobiographical texts". Angelou used the same editor throughout her writing career, Robert Loomis, an executive editor at Random House; he retired in 2011 and has been called "one of publishing's hall of fame editors." Angelou said regarding Loomis: "We have a relationship that's kind of famous among publishers".

Angelou's long and extensive career also included poetry, plays, screenplays for television and film, directing, acting, and public speaking. She was a prolific writer of poetry; her volume Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie (1971) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and she was chosen by President Bill Clinton to recite her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" during his inauguration in 1993.

Angelou's successful acting career included roles in numerous plays, films, and television programs, including her appearance in the television mini-series Roots in 1977. Her screenplay, Georgia, Georgia (1972), was the first original script by a black woman to be produced and she was the first African-American woman to direct a major motion picture, Down in the Delta, in 1998

Chronology of autobiographies

   I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969): Up to 1944 (age 17)  
   Gather Together in My Name (1974): 1944–48  
   Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (1976): 1949–55  
   The Heart of a Woman (1981): 1957–62  
   All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986): 1962–65  
   A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002): 1965–68  
   Mom & Me & Mom (2013): overview  


  • Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie (1971)
  • Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well (1975)
  • And Still I Rise (1978)
  • Shaker, Why Don't You Sing? (1983)
  • Poems (1986)
  • Now Sheba Sings the Song (1987)
  • I Shall Not Be Moved (1990)
  • The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (1994)
  • Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women (1995)
  • Poetry for Young People (2007)

Single publications

  • "On the Pulse of Morning" (1993)
  • "A Brave and Startling Truth" (1995)
  • "From a Black Woman to a Black Man" (1995)
  • "Amazing Peace" (2005)
  • "Mother: A Cradle to Hold Me" (2006)
  • "Celebrations, Rituals of Peace and Prayer" (2006)
  • "We Had Him" (2009)
  • "His Day is Done" (2013)