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 You are in:    Front Page > Sitemap > Women Writers
key influences and themes

Angelou describes the rape by her mother's boyfriend, 'Mr Freeman', in I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. At the age of seven, she had been left alone with him.

The horrific rape of Angelou as a child

After she was raped, Angelou and her brother went back to live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. They called her Mamma. She had deep religious beliefs and a powerful character and was an important influence on Angelou. Yet as a strong black woman, Mamma was badly treated by the poor whites around her. The racism Angelou experienced is another key influence.

"It was terrible. I couldn't understand it because my grandmother owned most of the land the poor whites lived on and then they had the nerve to come and sneer at her. I was convinced that God and she were one. It was heartbreaking. I would scream and cry, I would get behind the door and kick and… she'd just come and take me in her arms and say, 'Mamma's baby, Mamma's baby'. It's hard, you know."
Maya Angelou


life events
key influences and themes
Angelou's work
style
the next chapter
being a woman writer
  Women Writers
  Ama Ata Aidoo
  Meena Alexander
  Shashi Deshpande
  Margaret Drabble
  Buchi Emecheta
  Jamaica Kincaid
  Doris Lessing
  Bharati Mukherjee
  Michele Roberts
  Helen Simpson

 
 
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