Author and activist Maya Angelou has died at her home in North Carolina. She was 86. Best known for her first book, the 1969 autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Random House), Angelou was awarded the Medal of Freedom in 2011 by President Obama.
At the National Book Awards last November, Angelou was honored with the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community by the National Book Foundation. Angelou's longtime friend Toni Morrison, who presented the award, said that it was "A personal pleasure to honor a friend, an artist, and a legend... in spite of her truly outrageous talents, she doesn’t summon envy.... Instead Maya Angelou inspires delight as well as awe."
In a statement from Random House, Robert Loomis, Angelou's editor of more than forty years, said, “Maya, a dear friend, helped change our hearts and minds about the African American experience in the United States, bringing it to vivid life, and her spirit and energy crossed all borders and deeply affected readers around the world.”
Gina Centrello, president and publisher of Random House, added, “Today a light has gone out at Random House. Dr. Angelou was an inspiration to all, and we are proud and honored to have known her and to be part of the devoted team that publishes her work. Maya will be deeply missed.”
We've collected PW's reviews of many of Angelou's books below.