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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

The first volume of a multi-volume autobiography by Maya Angelou, published in 1970. The book broke ground for African-American women writers in terms of critical acclaim and large sales. ...

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings   Reference library

The Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2002
Subject:
Literature
Length:
640 words

...I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings . The bestselling first volume of Maya Angelou 's serial autobiography inaugurated a new era of African American women's writing. Published in 1970 , I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings contains many of the themes that would become central to feminist theory and practice in the 1980s. Taken from the first verse of Paul Laurence Dunbar 's poem “Sympathy” , the title articulates the woman writer's empowering recognition of her ability to sing her own song despite the cultural odds against her. “If growing up is painful for the...

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Literature in English

Reference type:
Subject Reference

... Know Why the Caged Bird Sings , the first volume of a multi-volume autobiography by Maya Angelou , published in 1970 . The book broke ground for African-American women writers in terms of critical acclaim and large sales. It is a powerful and often painful evocation of Angelou's childhood in the 1930s and 1940s, mostly in the black community of the US Deep South. As the book opens, the author—then Marguerite Johnson , lonely, shy, self-conscious—and her older brother Bailey, aged three and four respectively, offspring of a failed marriage, travel from...

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings   Reference library

Brewer's Dictionary of Modern Phrase & Fable (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2011

... Know Why the Caged Bird Sings . A volume of memoirs ( 1970 ) by the African-American writer, singer and actress Maya Angelou ( b.1928 ). Angelou borrowed her title from a line in the poem ‘Sympathy’ by the US poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar ( 1872–1906 ). We think caged birds sing, when indeed they cry. john webster : The White Devil ( 1612 ),...

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings  

The first volume of a multi-volume autobiography by Maya Angelou, published in 1970. The book broke ground for African-American women writers in terms of critical acclaim and large sales. It ...
E. Lynn Harris

E. Lynn Harris  

Reference type:
Overview Page
Subject:
Literature
(1955–2009), novelist.Developing a Black male homosexual canon empowered E. Lynn Harris to testify to his experiences and spark conversation on an often taboo topic. Growing up in Little Rock, ...
Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou  

Reference type:
Overview Page
Subject:
Literature
1928– )Black US writer, whose status as a national icon was confirmed by her reading one of her poems, ‘On the Pulse of the Morning’, at President Clinton's inauguration in 1993.Born in St Louis, ...
Angelou, Maya

Angelou, Maya (1928–2014)   Quick reference

The Concise Oxford Companion to American Literature

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2002
Subject:
Literature
Length:
122 words

...frank and warm-hearted autobiographical accounts of her life as a young black woman in America, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ( 1970 ), Gather Together in My Name ( 1974 ), and Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas ( 1976 ). She has also published collections of her poems: 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 ), and Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing ( 1983...

Angelou, Maya

Angelou, Maya (1928)   Quick reference

World Encyclopedia

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
Jul 2014
Subject:
Encyclopedias
Length:
75 words

...Maya ( 1928 – 2014 ) US writer , editor , and entertainer . She is best known for six volumes of autobiography, starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ( 1970 ). Evoking her childhood in 1930s Arkansas, it relates the rape that left Angelou mute for the next five years. The fourth volume, The Heart of a Woman , deals with her involvement in the 1960s Civil Rights movement as the Northern Coordinator for Martin Luther King ,...

Angelou, Maya

Angelou, Maya (1928)   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to American Literature (6 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004
Subject:
Literature
Length:
167 words

... I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ( 1970 ), Gather Together in My Name ( 1974 ), Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas ( 1976 ), The Heart of a Woman ( 1981 ), and All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes ( 1986 ). She has also written several collections of poems, including Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diie ( 1971 ), Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well ( 1975 ), And Still I Rise ( 1978 ), Shaker, Why Don't You Sing ( 1983 ), Now Sheba Sings the Song ( 1987 ), and Shall Not Be Moved ( 1990 ). The...

Angelou, Maya

Angelou, Maya (1928–2014)   Quick reference

A Dictionary of Gender Studies

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2017
Subject:
Social sciences, Sociology, Politics
Length:
118 words

...activist . Best known for her seven-volume series of memoirs of which the first one entitled I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ( 1969 ), brought her international acclaim. In it she details her early life, the sexual abuse she experienced at the hands of her mother’s boyfriend, his subsequent murder, and her resultant muteness. A survivor of many personal and political battles and traumas, her poem ‘And Still I Rise’ ( 1978 ) encapsulated Angelou’s indomitable spirit. Her work was among the first by Black American writers taught in UK English literature...

Angelou, Maya

Angelou, Maya (1928–2014)   Quick reference

The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature (4 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2013
Subject:
Literature
Length:
173 words

...and poet. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ( 1970 ), the most famous of her five volumes of autobiography, charts her harrowing childhood in Arkansas, her segregated education in Southern schools, and the beginning of her enduring relationship with literature. The other volumes, Gather Together in my Name ( 1974 ), Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry like Christmas ( 1976 ), The Heart of a Woman ( 1981 ), and All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes ( 1986 ), record her flamboyant career as a singer and dancer, her years in the Harlem Writers'...

Angelou, Maya

Angelou, Maya (1928–2014)   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to English Literature (7 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2009
Subject:
Literature
Length:
229 words

...black culture, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ( 1970 ), the most famous of her five volumes of autobiography, charts her harrowing childhood in Arkansas, her segregated education in Southern schools, and the beginning of her enduring relationship with literature. The other volumes, Gather Together in my Name ( 1974 ), Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry like Christmas ( 1976 ), The Heart of a Woman ( 1981 ), and All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes ( 1986 ), record her flamboyant career as a singer and dancer, her years in the Harlem Writers'...

Angelou, Maya

Angelou, Maya (1928–2014)   Quick reference

A Dictionary of Writers and their Works (3 ed.)

... ( 1928–2014 ) American autobiographer , poet , and dramatist I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ( 1970 ) Non-Fiction Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Die ( 1971 ) Poetry Gather Together in My Name ( 1974 ) Non-Fiction Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well ( 1975 ) Poetry Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas ( 1976 ) Non-Fiction And Still I Rise ( 1978 ) Poetry The Heart of a Woman ( 1981 ) Non-Fiction Shaker, Why Don't You Sing? ( 1983 ) Non-Fiction All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes ( 1986...

Angelou, Maya

Angelou, Maya   Reference library

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2006
Subject:
Literature, Children's literature studies
Length:
343 words

...on I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ( 1970 ) and its sequels. Caged Bird (recommended for junior and senior high school students) covers Angelou's childhood and adolescent years, and is recognized as a prime example of literature in the African American autobiographical tradition. She also wrote picture books— My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, & Me ( 1994 ) and Kofi and His Magic ( 1996 )—and a poem dating from 1978 , “Life Doesn't Frighten Me,” became a picture book in 1993 . This work centers on childhood fears, “panthers or strangers in the...

Angelou, Maya

Angelou, Maya (b. 1928)   Reference library

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2008
Subject:
History
Length:
727 words

...the University of Kansas, as well as the University of Ghana, among other places, has been a Rockefeller Foundation Scholar and a Yale University Fellow. She currently holds the lifetime position of Z. Smith Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston‐Salem, North Carolina. Angelou was once quoted as saying, “I speak to the black experience, but I am always talking about the human condition—about what we can endure, dream, fail at, and still survive.” In her first and best‐known autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ...

Angelou, Maya

Angelou, Maya (4 April 1928)   Reference library

Black Women in America (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
2,085 words
Illustration(s):
1

...highlighting the role of African culture in America. Having been encouraged by her friend the author James Baldwin to write an autobiography, Angelou first gained notice in 1970 as the author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings . She emerged during a time when writing by black women proliferated. Among her peers were Toni Cade Bambara , Paule Marshall , Toni Morrison , and Alice Walker . Angelou’s autobiography received critical acclaim. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was nominated for a National Book Award in 1970 and remained on the New York...

Angelou, Maya

Angelou, Maya   Reference library

The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
Literature
Length:
2,251 words

... I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was thought to be so sexually explicit that it was pornographic; some parents felt Angelou's descriptions of her sexual molestation were too graphic for children to read. Despite this controversy, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings remains one of the most widely read and best-selling autobiographical accounts in American literature. Angelou's Life as Her Work In 1971 , Angelou published a book of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie . Like her autobiography, her poetry in this volume deals with the...

Angelou, Maya

Angelou, Maya (1928– )   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Literature in English

Reference type:
Subject Reference

...Francisco. In the 1950s she moved to New York, where she joined the Harlem Writers' Guild, performed in off-Broadway productions, and sang in night-clubs. Later she became an administrator at the University of Ghana, and editor of African Review . More recently she has been Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. Best known for her five autobiographical books, the first and best-known volume, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ( 1970 ), powerfully describes her childhood in the American South of the 1930s. Gather...

Angelou, Maya

Angelou, Maya (1928–2014)   Quick reference

Who's Who in the Twentieth Century

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2003
Subject:
History
Length:
266 words

...‘On the Pulse of the Morning’, at President Clinton 's inauguration in 1993 . Born in St Louis, Missouri, she adopted her brother's pet name for her, Maya, and the surname of her first husband, who was of Greek descent. Raped at eight, knifed by her father's mistress, and a mother at sixteen, she was brought up in Arkansas and California. Maya Angelou is best known for the first volume of her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ( 1970 ). This humorous and compassionate account of the personal traumas of her youth is set against the...

Angelou, Maya

Angelou, Maya (1928)   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to Women's Writing in the United States

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
Literature
Length:
890 words

...Angelou refused. But after her future editor noted the difficulty of the autobiographical form, Angelou responded to the challenge and consented. Her first volume of autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ( 1970 ), was an instant success. It became a best-seller and was nominated for the National Book Award. Since then, she has published five more volumes of autobiography, including Gather Together in My Name ( 1974 ), Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas ( 1976 ), The Heart of a Woman ( 1981 ) and All God's Children Need...

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