Manuscript draft of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Published in 1969, Maya Angelou’s coming-of-age memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was an immediate national bestseller and a critical success. The book, the first in a series that chronicled her early life through the 1960s, helped to establish Angelou as a major figure in American letters. On this manuscript page from the book, Angelou captures the moment when she and her brother, Bailey, arrived in Arkansas to be raised by their paternal grandmother and presages the personalities that she and Bailey would later develop. With connections to activist, literary, and expat communities in the United States and Ghana, Angelou’s work encapsulates the Schomburg Center’s strongest holdings—stories of the struggles, triumphs, and fortitude in the everyday vicissitudes of Black life.
Currently on View at Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
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