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The Heart of a Woman (Maya Angelou's Autobiography #4)

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  17,720 Ratings  ·  443 Reviews
Maya Angelou has fascinated, moved, and inspired countless readers with the first three volumes of her autobiography, one of the most remarkable personal narratives of our age. Now, in her fourth volume, The Heart of a Woman, her turbulent life breaks wide open with joy as the singer-dancer enters the razzle-dazzle of fabulous New York City. There, at the Harlem Writers Gu ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 17th 1997 by Random House (first published April 1981)
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Paul
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
This is the fourth volume of Maya Angelou’s autobiography, the title comes from a poem by Georgia Johnson:
“The heart of a woman goes forth with the dawn,
As a lone bird, soft winging, so restlessly on,
Afar o'er life's turrets and vales does it roam
In the wake of those echoes the heart calls home.
The heart of a woman falls back with the night,
And enters some alien cage in its plight,
And tries to forget it has dreamed of the stars
While it breaks, breaks, breaks on the sheltering bars.”
This
...more
Eman
Sep 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


The Heart of a Woman is Maya Angelou's forth autobiography. This book reveals more of Maya's hectic adventures, political opinions, struggle with racism, and misfortune in the romance department. You will be introduced to Maya, the activist, who works for Martin Luther King Jr. and gets to meet Malcolm X. I like that each chapter is exciting enough to keep me interested.

I'm not surprised that she was able to keep her writing fresh and crispy with just the right amount of tasteful humor. Her son,
...more
Chandra
Aug 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is inspiring and reminds you that no matter what you are going through that it can be overcome. Maya Angelou's writing is honest, poetic and REAL. I find her style to be full of poetic imagery as is seen in this quote p. 52 "His features had the immutability of a Benin mask...his teeth like flags of truce. His skin the color of rich black dirt along the Arkansas river."

The following lucid and eloquent quotes remind one to persevere in the face of all things opposing:

"If I ended in def
...more
Ivana Books Are Magic
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
What kind of book is this? the BEST kind of book, one that is emotionally warm, intellectually stimulating and all that spiced with a touch of wisdom! The Heart of a Woman is a memoir by Maya Angelou, so far the only memoir of her that I have read and I understand she has written several of them. The events Maya describes in this book take place between 1957 and 1962 and in that sense this book is a continuation of her previous memoirs.

I didn’t mind the fact that this wasn’t the first one and I
...more
Mary-Ellen Lynn
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-non-fiction
In 'The Heart of a Woman' Maya Angelou leaves California with her son, Guy, to go to New York, where she enters the world of black artists and writers. She begins to share her writing and performs at the Apollo Theater in Harlem; but the momentum of the story lies in her part in the struggle of black Americans for freedom: she is appointed Martin Luther King's Northern Coordinator. She takes a leading role in Genet's The Blacks, with a notable cast (including Godfrey Cambridge, Roscoe Lee Brown, ...more
Laila
Mar 28, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really didn't like this book, which surprised me since I remember really liking "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." Her life is interesting, no doubt, but I found the book to be trite, unnatural and self-indulgent. The dialogue and general intereactions between characters was not convincing, which I find disturbing considering that this is not a work of fiction.
Tonya
Jul 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I. Merey
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A slice from some years of Maya Angelou's life.

Angelou juggles raising a kid alone, working in showbiz, navigating relationships--serendipitously, she falls into black activist work through which she'll meet MLKjr, Malcolm X--she'll marry a South African activist and move with him and her son to Cairo--become an editor of a weekly newspaper there--

Angelou's life beats in strong clear waves---she was a singer, an artist, a writer, a poet, an actor, an organizer, an activist, a mother---

How soberi
...more
Karla Mae
Oct 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
So many punchlines!

The thing about reading memoirs is that it allows you to see through the author's narrative. Maya Angelou did a remarkable job in making her point understood through vivid encounters, heated conversations, musings, constant reflections, and cultural subtleties.

Maya is a poet, a writer, a singer, an artist, an activist, and most of all, a mother. As a black American woman in Harlem, she learned how to play the game. Braving the streets of New York and London, she speaks with r
...more
Aonarán
Sep 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Read this riding my 'I know why the caged bird sings' high. What struck me as the most different - and the most disappointing - part of this book was that it read more as a chronology.

Really exciting things happening in her life and the world at this time, but didn't have the same story-telling charm as caged bird.

Like it none the less.
Carmen
Nov 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
Fourth volume of Angelou's biography. Very good. Her adventures in Africa.
Ying Ying
Utterly captivating. As usual, Maya is able to draw us into her adventurous life. Her writing allows us to immerse ourselves in the roller coaster of her emotions. I love her writing and story-telling and could read her again and again.
Mallory (The Local Muse)
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This and more @ The Local Muse:
This is the forth book in Angelou's memoir series and takes place in 1960s. Angelou writes about her involvement in the American Civil Rights Movement as well as her time living in South Africa as the wife of a South American Civil Rights leader.

I love Maya Angelou; she's one of my heroes and all-time favorite poets. I am loving her memoirs; she was such an incredible woman. I haven't reviewed all of the memoirs I have read so far on the blog, but I have enjoyed e
...more
Vorbis
Jul 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Ok! So where had we got in Maya Angelou's autobiography last time? She'd gone from dancing in a strip club to singing professionally around America. In this book she moves with her son Guy to New York and works for Martin Luther King Jr as a manager.

Then she gets married to an African freedom fighter who's over petitioning the UN, moves to Egypt, the dude can't manage his finances so she gets a job as an associate editor at a newspaper (with no journalistic experience in a country where women d
...more
Yvette Danielle
Aug 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I waited entirely too long to read this book! It sat on my "to read" shelf for too long and I'm sad to say it was her passing that made me pick it up and start to read, wanting to feel close to her through her words. Now I regret having waited.. This book is so rich in the History she shares of her accounts of The Harlem Renaissance era, working with Dr. King and the Literary Writer's Guild she was part of. Not to mention the pearls of wisdom and cherished insights she shares as a woman and moth ...more
Lesley
Jan 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is the fourth in the series of autobiographies by Maya Angelou, one time stripper, dancer, singer, actress and letterly American poet laureate. I have read the first three and look forward to reading the fifth and final episode. Angelou is frank about her mistakes and her successes and how she rose from being a child brought up in the American south during the days when black people and white people lived entirely separate lives. In this volume, she has started to find her feet as a writer ...more
Lynn Wilson
Sep 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I literally started and kept reading. Angelou is one courageous, outrageous woman. And this portion of her autobiography covers the late 50's and early 60's, a tumultuous time in this country with a great deal of similarity to the unrest we're currently living through, though the presenting issues seem different. (I'm not so sure they are, and the characters and mindsets seem the same to me.) For anyone who's interested in a creative life lived at full throttle, and/or who has questions about wh ...more
Joanna
Absolutely gripping, fabulously written, heartbreakingly honest. This book grabbed me by the throat and held on. Angelou lived in interesting times and writes about both personal and societal turmoil. She makes her experiences accessible and does not flinch from the difficulties that she faced (and overcame). Cameo appearances by famous people felt like a cool scene in a movie rather than mere name dropping. Watch for James Earl Jones, James Baldwin, plus meetings with Martin Luther King, Jr., a ...more
Kate Kaput
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was my first book by the indomitable Miss Angelou, but it won't be my last. She was incredible, with writing to rival her personality. This memoir focuses primarily on the time of her life when she was in a relationship with a South African civil rights activist who tried to mold her into the perfect African (rather than African-American) wife. Her spirit, work ethic, & sense of justice are all on full display as she struggles to be the perfect wife while also remaining an activist, a m ...more
Ari Haltom
Aug 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Incredible. I've always loved to read the memoirs of interesting people, and Maya Angelou was, in my opinion, one of the most interesting people in the history of America. She fought hard for what she believed in, she loved hard, and she should be an inspiration to us all. To top off all of the interesting events in her memoir, her writing style flows beautifully, making this very hard to put down.
Ms_prue
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
At the part where the producer said he wouldn't pay for the songs for the play because Maya and Ethel 'just sat down at the piano and made it up' I nearly screamed WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK COMPOSERS ACTUALLY DO?
Maya's writing is amazing - so good - lean and evocative. I don't actively go in for autobiographies but I will be looking out for her other books for sure.
Kelechi
Dec 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this volume of Maya Angelou's autobiography. Her writing is truthful and beautiful. I felt that I could relate to her as she discovered more about herself through her life experiences. Her depiction of her romantic relationships with the men she encountered at that point in her life, spoke to me as a woman forging a life for herself that is autonomous.
Ulriika
Apr 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
When I think her life can't get crazier, she marries a freedom fighter and moves to Egypt. Maya, you amaze me. <3

Love it, love her. Although I really love Vivian Baxter - she is iconic, somehow. Will try a method of WWVBD for the next few months (should be epic).
Celia
May 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was not expecting an autobiography to be so engaging but that it was! I can't wait to read the other five books.
Sephora
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
loved book
SpookyPendo
Dec 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is my first work of Maya’s to read and it got me thinking why I waited for so long. Got the book as a thrift find on a night market and I am so glad I picked it up and decided to buy it.

Maya tells us her story in such a honest way that she doesn’t shy away from admitting her vulnerabilities and mistakes which I found as a great way to make us relate to her. In this volume she shares a lot about how she had to socially struggle to get on her feet even when introduced to new cultures. There’
...more
Krystal Smith
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Angelou is bold, funny, vulnerable, and human. The way she opens up and tells her story, including triumphs and failures, makes me trust every word she says. The way she built community wherever she went makes me miss a time I wasn't apart of. I appreciate this book for the lessons I gleaned from it. Be bold, try, fall in in love, say when you've had enough, look out for folks, and know the folks who will look out for you.
The writing is smooth, easy to glide through. Angelou's writing is a rich
...more
Jacinthe Généreux
Un bouquin sublime qui nous éduque autant qu'il nous charme. Les faits historiques sont là, et les sentiments décrits sont carrément une valeur ajoutée qui nous sommes envie de sauter dans les rues militer encore et toujours.
Julia
Mar 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shanin Warren
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautiful and inspiring.
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Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Ann Johnson April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri, was an American poet, memoirist, actress and an important figure in the American Civil Rights Movement. In 2001 she was named one of the 30 most powerful women in America by Ladies Home Journal. Maya Angelou is known for her series of six autobiographies, starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, (1969) which was ...more
More about Maya Angelou

Other books in the series

Maya Angelou's Autobiography (7 books)
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  • Gather Together in My Name
  • Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (Maya Angelou's Autobiography, #3)
  • All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes
  • A Song Flung Up To Heaven
  • Mom & Me & Mom
“Don't let the man bring you down.” 133 likes
“If more Africans had eaten missionaries, the continent would be in better shape.” 17 likes
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