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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Stock Photo: Cover May Be Different

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Unknown - 1985

by Maya Angelou

About this book

Titled after a stanza from Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “Sympathy,” I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the first of a series of seven autobiographical novels by African-American poet and writer Maya Angelou. Personally deeply involved and affected by the civil rights movement, the volume explores racism and identity in her early life.  

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was nominated for the National Book Award in 1970. However, due to its depiction of controversial subjects such as sexuality, lesbianism and rape, the use of the novel in classrooms has been frequently challenged.

First line

What you looking at me for?

First Edition Identification

Random House published the first edition of the novel in 1969. Markings for a first edition are characteristic of the publisher with the words "First Edition" clearly stated on the copyright page. The first issue also has a red-stained top edge.


  • Title I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  • Author Maya Angelou
  • Binding unknown
  • Publisher G K Hall & Co
  • Date October 1985
  • ISBN 9780851193397