Angelou was born April 4, 1928, and grew up in racially-segregated Stamps, Arkansas. She began writing at the age of 7 after a childhood tragedy stunned her into silence for nearly 10 years.
Having never gone to college, Angelou received 30 honorary degrees and taught American studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
She spoke at least six languages, and even worked as a newspaper editor in Egypt and Ghana. It was during this time she wrote one of her most popular books, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings."
According to Angelou's agent, she had heart problems but was still working on a new book.
Her death comes less than week after announcing she would not attend the 2014 M.L.B. Beacon Awards Luncheon, where she was to be honored, citing "health reasons."
Maya Angelou was 86 years old.