ArchiveImportant Maya Angelou Archive. 10 historically relevant books from Angelou’s personal library; also includes 5 Maya Angelou-owned pre-publication copies preceding the first editions of 5 of her own books. Also comes with Maya Angelou’s Personal Photo album documenting her philanthropic work with UNICEF and 2 Original Honorary PhD degrees awarded to Maya Angelou.
The books from Angelou’s personal library include Baldwin’s Harlem: A Biography of James Baldwin, which also has Angelou’s bookplate in pink in the front cover and an inscription by the author reading “To our poetess, One of the Greatest Women of the Century” ; and A Profile of the Negro American, with Angelou’s pink bookplate.(the book is a review of disparate impacts on health, education, and crime, together with an interpretation of the Negro American identity and an evaluation of civil rights progress through the early 1960s; and The Story of Atlanta University with an inscribed note “To Maya” which goes over the history of the University’s integrated education efforts; The Commoner, a novel about class and power in postwar Japan which has Maya Angelou’s personal bookplate on the inside front cover, reading “This Book is from the Library of Maya Angelou”; All in very good condition. Pre-publication copies (also known as Advance Review Copies), are produced privately by publishers and distributed to a small number of reviewers before the official release date of the First Edition of the book. The pre-publication Advance Review Copies include Even the Stars Look Lonesome (published by Random House, 1977 the best-selling second essay Angelou’s so-called “Wisdom Books”) with a black ballpoint inscription of “Joy!” in Angelou's hand followed by Angelou’s large signature on the title page; And Still I Rise Angelou’s third volume of poetry focusing on hope and determination to rise above racism and misogyny, published by Random House in 1978; The Heart of a Woman published by Random House in 1981, which tells the story of black motherhood in America by mixing the lives of figures such as Billie Holiday and Malcom X with Angelou’s own experience; the advance proof of the UK paperback edition of Singin’ and Swingin’ and Getting Merry like Christmas published by Virago Press in 1985; and Mom & Me & Mom published by Random House in 2013, Angelou’s final autobiography and a tender look at one of her life’s most complex and rewarding relationships. All in very good condition. Because Advance Review Copies may not have been put through the entire editing process, the copy will differ slightly from the final edition of the book. A remarkable collection.
Libraries were an extremely important positive influence on Angelou’s early development and her personal library became a source of strength and comfort later in life. Maya Angelou spoke about the effect of books and libraries: "It is amazing, for me, to have been taken to a library when I was eight. I had been abused and I returned to a little village in Arkansas. And a black lady … knew I wasn’t speaking — I refused to speak — for six years I was a volunteer mute. She took me to library in the black school. The library probably had 300 books — maybe. The books were given to the black school from the white school and, often, there were no backs on the books. So we took shingles, cut them down to the size of the book, got some cotton and then pretty cloth, and covered those shingles and then laced them from the back, so that the books were beautiful. And those were the books she took me to see. She said, ‘I want you to read every book in this library.’” (Dr. Angelou Speech, Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture — New York Public Library, 2010.)
Maya Angelou’s Personal Photo Album Documenting her Work with UNICEF. Angelou, 1994. Approximately 5”x7” inches, cloth boards. Containing 17 original 4”x6” inch photographs of the internationally known author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, serving as National UNICEF Month Chair. Angelou appears in all 17 photographs of this album. The photos include Angelou meeting with dignitaries, hugging schoolgirls, and speaking at the podium. Angelou overcame her childhood abuse through education and a personal conviction to refuse victimhood; themes she wrote about in her celebrated memoirs. Through her work with UNICEF, she helped to lift other young children from oppression. UNICEF is the United Nations agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide. This album was prepared for and gifted to Angelou by Gwendolyn Baker (1932-2019), President and CEO for the U.S. Committee for UNICEF. Like Angelou, Baker was a talented African American female educator, who championed causes for multicultural education. The album bears the handwritten inscription, “1994/ Dear Dr. Maya, with deep appreciation for your role as 1994 National UNICEF Month Chair. / Sincerely, Gwen Baker.” The album and photo are in very good condition. We have been unable to find any record of the photos of this album being published. Persons pictured with Angelou include “King of Calypso” Harry Belafonte, news personality Hugh Downs, and Dr. Gwen Baker. Perhaps the most arresting images are those showing Angelou embracing schoolgirls who came to UNICEF to speak.