Abstract or Introduction
Maya Angelou’s autobiography consists of six volumes. Born in 1928, she started writing down the story of her life in 1968. Robert Loomis, an editor at Random House, had asked her several times to write an autobiography, but she never agreed because she thought it was too difficult. He decided to trick her into writing by telling her: “I must say you may be right not to attempt an autobiography, because it is nearly impossible to write autobiography as literature. Almost impossible” (p.1165, ll.14ff.).
Maya Angelou could not resist this challenge and started writing the first volume, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, that tells the reader about her childhood in segregated Arkansas, St Louis and San Francisco and the birth of her son Guy.
The second volume, published in 1974, is called Gather together in my name. It deals with Maya’s experiences as a young mother who struggles for survival after World War II.
Only two years later, in the third part, Singin’ and Swingin’ and Getting’ Merry Like Christmas, the start of her career as a singer touring Europe with Porgy & Bess is described.
In The Heart of a Woman, the fourth volume of her autobiography, 1981, Maya Angelou remembers how she started writing in New York where she worked for the NAACP in black politics. It also contains an account of her marriage with the African freedom fighter Vusumzi Make she followed to Africa.
All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes is the title of the fifth part, published in 1986: Maya is looking for her ancestors in Ghana, but notices that she does not belong there either.
In 2002 the last volume (so far) is finished: A Song Flung Up to Heaven deals with the situation in the USA around Malcolm X’s and Martin Luther King’s assassinations and ends with the moment Maya starts writing her autobiography.
- Quote paper
- BA, MA Kathrin Gerbe (Author), 2004, Maya Angelou's quest for her self, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/45655