In 2009, Maya Angelou – an award-winning author best known for her memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and her poems, including On the Pulse of Morning, which she read at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration – published her third book of essays called Letter to My Daughter. In this autobiographical book and New York Times bestseller she shared her remarkable life experiences which are full of tales of struggle, survival and triumph of the human spirit, as well as extraordinary inspirational quotes and words of wisdom we can refer to in our daily life.
She got the inspiration to write the book while she was going through 20 years old boxes of papers full of ideas, concepts and notes for her future literary projects, some of which were written for her friend Oprah Winfrey. She decided to write them down and publish in a form of 28 short essays she dedicated to “thousands of daughters” – women all around the world who seek wisdom and who she calls to play a special role in leading a way to a better world. As she had no daughters, she considered all women to be her daughters. “I gave birth to one child, a son, but I have thousands of daughters. You are Black and White, Jewish and Muslim, Asian, Spanish speaking, Native Americans and Aleut. You are fat and thin and pretty and plain, gay and straight, educated and unlettered, and I am speaking to you all. Here is my offering to you,” explained Angelou in the introduction. In the essays, she shared her stories and life lessons she learned over eighty years and we are bringing you the best Maya Angelou quotes excerpted from this spellbinding book.
1. On complaining
2. On self-determination
“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution.” – Maya Angelou
3. On leaving home
“I believe that one can never leave home. I believe that one carries the shadows, the dreams, the fears and dragons of home under one’s skin, at the extreme corners of one’s eyes and possibly in the gristle of the ear lobe.” – Maya Angelou
4. On growing up
“I am convinced that most people do not grow up. We find parking spaces and honor our credit cards. We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are still innocent and shy as magnolias.” – Maya Angelou
5. On doing good
6. On charity
“The charitable say in effect, “I seem to have more than I need and you seem to have less than you need. I would like to share my excess with you.” Fine, if my excess is tangible, money or goods, and fine if not, for I learned that to be charitable with gestures and words can bring enormous joy and repair injured feelings.” – Maya Angelou
7. On kindness
“That day, I learned that I could be a giver by simply bringing a smile to another person. The ensuing years have taught me that a kind word, a vote of support is a charitable gift.” – Maya Angelou
8. On having dreams
9. On finding ourselves
“We may act sophisticated and worldly but I believe we feel safest when we go inside ourselves and find home, a place where we belong and maybe the only place we really do.” – Maya Angelou
10. On self-defense
“I am never proud to participate in violence, yet, I know that each of us must care enough for ourselves, that we can be ready and able to come to our own defense when and wherever needed.” – Maya Angelou
11. On friendship
12. On keeping the faith
“Whenever I began to question whether God exists, I looked up to the sky and surely there, right there, between the sun and moon, stands my grandmother, singing a long meter hymn, a song somewhere between a moan and a lullaby and I know faith is the evidence of things unseen. And all I have to do is continue trying to be a Christian.” – Maya Angelou
13. On art and humanity
Like the rest of her work, Letter to My Daughter is truly an extraordinary book – highly recommended.
We strive for accuracy. But if you see something that doesn’t look right, contact us!