Maya Angelou dies: ten of the author's best-loved quotes

May 28, 2014

The much-loved American poet, author and activist has died at the age of 86

Gabriela Maj/Getty Images

American author, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou has died at the age of 86, her literary agent, Helen Brann, said on Wednesday.

Also a professor, singer and dancer, Angelou was perhaps best-known for her 1969 memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. In 2011, President Barack Obama awarded her with the Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian honour.

Her poem On the Pulse of the Morning, written for US President Bill Clinton's first inauguration, managed to sell a million copies in the US.

Angelou was known for her wit and her wisdom. Here are ten of her best-loved quotes:

"We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty."

"Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently."

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain."

"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."

"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song."

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

"Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.

I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size

But when I start to tell them,

They think I'm telling lies.

I say,

It's in the reach of my arms

The span of my hips,

The stride of my step,

The curl of my lips.

I'm a woman


Phenomenal woman,

That's me."


"Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it."

"I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way (s)he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights."

"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style."

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