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Author, poet, playwright, stage and screen producer, director, and actress, Maya Angelou was born April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri. She has received 32 honorary degrees as well as nominations for a Pulitzer Prize, a Tony Award, and an Emmy Award. She became a professor of American studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina in 1981. At age eight, Angelou endured a lengthy period when she was unable to speak after her mother's boyfriend raped her. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970), her first autobiographical work, concerns this early part of her life. Before receiving support for her writing just prior to 1960 from the Harlem Writers' Guild in New York City, Angelou worked in a number of jobs, including as a dancer, a prostitute, a madam, a cocktail waitress, and a cook. Her various life experiences provide her with rich subject matter for her many creative talents.