Bloom, Harold, ed. Maya Angelou. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1999. This selection of essays dealing with Angelou’s poetry and prose broaches, among other subjects, the singular relationship of Angelou to her audience and her distinctively African American mode of literary expression.
Braxton, Joanne M. Black Women Writing Autobiography: A Tradition Within a Tradition. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989. Discusses how Angelou employs the image of the protecting mother as a primary archetype within her work. Traces Angelou’s development of themes common to black female autobiography: the centrality of the family, the challenges of child rearing and single parenthood, and the burden of overcoming negative stereotypes of African American women.
Cudjoe, Selwyn. “Maya Angelou and the Autobiographical Statement.” In Black Women Writers (1950-1980), edited by Mari Evans. Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Press, 1983. Cudjoe discusses the importance of Angelou’s biographical work, arguing that she represents “the condition of Afro-American womanhood in her quest for understanding and love rather than for bitterness and despair.” Cudjoe stresses that by telling the story of her own life in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou has shown the reader what it means to be a black female in America.
Elliott, Jeffrey M., ed. Conversations with Maya Angelou. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1989. Part of the University Press of Mississippi’s ongoing Literary Conversations series, this work is a collection of more than thirty interviews with Angelou that originally appeared in various magazines and newspapers, accompanied by a chronology of her life. Provides a multifaceted perspective on the creative issues that have informed Angelou’s work as an autobiographer and a poet.
Guntern, Gottlieb, ed. The Challenge of Creative Leadership. London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1997. Guntern’s criteria for those who inspire others to move beyond mediocrity are explored in these philosophical pieces. Among these criteria are originality, elegance, and profundity.
Hagen, Lynn B. Heart of a Woman, Mind of a Writer, and Soul of a Poet: A Critical Analysis of the Writings of Maya Angelou. Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1996. While a number of scholarly works address the different literary forms Angelou has undertaken (most devoted to autobiography), few critical volumes survey her entire opus, and Hagen’s is one of the best. Chapters include “Wit and Wisdom/Mirth and Mischief,” “Abstracts in Ethics,” and “Overview.”
King, Sarah E. Maya Angelou: Greeting the Morning. Brookfield, Conn.: Millbrook Press, 1994. Includes biographical references and an index. Examines Angelou’s life, from her childhood in the segregated South to her rise to prominence as a writer.
Koyana, Siphokazi, and Rosemary Gray. “Growing up with Maya Angelou and Sindiwe Magona: A Comparison.” Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Comparative Studies 7 (November, 2001).
Lisandrelli, Elaine Slivinski. Maya Angelou: More than a Poet. Springfield, N.J.: Enslow, 1996. Lisandrelli discusses the flamboyance of Angelou, comparing her to the earlier African American author Zora Neale Hurston. Their hard work, optimism, perseverance, and belief in themselves are extolled.
Lupton, Mary Jane. Maya Angelou: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998. While focusing mainly on the autobiographies, Lupton’s study is still useful as a balanced assessment of Angelou’s writings. The volume also contains an excellent bibliography, particularly of Angelou’s autobiographical works.
McPherson, Dolly A. Order out of Chaos: The Autobiographical Works of Maya Angelou. New York: P. Lang, 1990. A book-length study of Angelou.
O’Neale, Sondra. “Reconstruction of the Composite Self: New Images of Black Women in Maya Angelou’s Continuing Autobiography.” In Black Women Writers (1950-1980), edited by Mari Evans. Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Press, 1983. O’Neale argues that Angelou’s primary contribution to the canon of African American literature lies in her realistic portrayal of the lives of black people, especially black women. O’Neale goes on to demonstrate the ways in which Angelou successfully destroys many of the stereotypes of black women.
Pettit, Jayne. Maya Angelou: Journey of the Heart. New York: Lodestar Books, 1996. Includes bibliographical references and an index. Traces Angelou’s journey from childhood through her life as entertainer, activist, writer, and university professor.
Shapiro, Miles. Maya Angelou. New York: Chelsea House, 1994. A biography describing the life and work of the celebrated writer.
Tate, Claudia, ed. Black Women Writers at Work. New York: Continuum, 1983. In this collection of interviews, Tate explores the personal lives and works of such contemporary African American writers as Gwendolyn Brooks, Alice Walker, and Toni Morrison. In her interview, Angelou discusses the importance of black role models.
Williams, Mary E., ed. Readings on Maya Angelou. San Diego, Calif.: Greenhaven Press, 1997. This collection of essays by literary scholars and noted faculty offers diverse voices and approaches to Angelou’s literary canon.