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Maya Angelou's Biography

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Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Annie Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 4, 1928.

When Maya Angelou was a young girl, she was raped by her mother's boyfriend and for the next five years was mute. At 16, she gave birth to a son.

In her youth, Maya Angelou was lanky. She told The Guardian: "I was six feet tall and was so skinny that when I pulled off my clothes I looked like a brown cucumber."

Maya Angelou is best known for her autobiographical books: 'All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes', 'The Heart of a Woman', 'Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas', 'Gather Together in My Name', and 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings', which was nominated for the National Book Award.

She worked with Martin Luther King (and refused to celebrate her birthday for many years because it fell on the day of his assassination).

In 1993, Maya Angelou wrote and delivered a poem, "On The Pulse of the Morning," at the inauguration for Bill Clinton at his request.

According to The Observer:

"During the weeks before President Bill Clinton's inauguration, Maya Angelou began work at 5.30 every morning in a hotel room and with the help of sherry, a dictionary, Roget's Thesaurus and the Bible, tried to write a poem. She filled six yellow pads but still no luck. She phoned her friend Jessica Mitford 'quite distraught, in a terrible state with the responsibility of it, trying to meet the deadline. But we knew she would pull it off. She's a superstar.'"

Maya Angelou told The Guardian that her grandmother's mother had been a slave, who when slavery was abolished changed her name to Kentucky Shannon.

A genealogist discovered that Kentucky's original name had been Mary Wafford, born in 1853 - her father was Washington Wafford born 1825 in Tippo, Mississippi.

As mentioned in Maya Angelou's official site, Dr Angelou has authored twelve best-sellers.

At the request of the BBC World News America, Maya Angelou wrote an article on Barack Obama taking Presidential office.

On 28 May 2014, Maya Angelou died, aged 86.

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