42 pages 1 hour read

Maya Angelou

Mom & Me & Mom

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 2013

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Authorial Context: Maya Angelou’s Autobiographies

Maya Angelou published seven autobiographies spanning from 1969 to 2013. Her memoirs include I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), Gather Together in My Name (1974), Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas (1976), The Heart of a Woman (1981), All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986), A Song Flung Up to Heaven (2002), and Mom & Me & Mom (2013). I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings earned her critical acclaim. All of Angelou’s books center on the Black female experience and the development of Black womanhood in a racist society. The books explore themes of identity, family, love, racism, traveling, male domination, and the resilience of African American women.

Angelou’s autobiographies challenge the genre and attempt to expand it, examining its relationship with memory and truth and making use of dialogue and plot. Her books are often analyzed beyond the focus of a personal narrative as an attempt to capture a collective Black experience. Through her autobiographies, she narrates parts of her life as a Black woman: her experiences with racism, domestic abuse, and sexual abuse; her work as a writer and civil rights activist; her life as a young mother; and her travels in West Africa.