Without the support of Dolly A. McPherson, professor of English at Wake Forest University, this book might not have been realized. I met Professor McPherson at a conference of the Mid-Atlantic Writers' Association held in Baltimore in 1990. Her book, Order Out of Chaos, published in that same year, was the first book-length study of Angelou's autobiographical works. McPherson, a life-long personal friend of Angelou's, has supported my work since that conference and offered assistance on numerous occasions. Through her, Maya Angelou became aware of my interest in her autobiographies. Through her, I was finally successful in arranging an interview with Angelou.
I am deeply grateful to Maya Angelou for her writings, her vitality, and her kindness. I thank her for being so gracious to me and my husband, Kenneth H. Baldwin, on the night of June 16, 1997.
My husband, chair of the English department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, though extremely busy, still had the time to offer substantial support: counting words and citations at several stages in the manuscript; shopping for groceries; dealing with computer repairs; checking the Internet; driving me to Winston-Salem. I am gratefull for his love, reassurance, and tolerance, especially during the final three months of this project.
To my daughters and their families--Julia on the West Coast and Ellen on the East--I am grateful for the phone calls, the questions, the en-