Was Maya Angelou Married

Maya Angelou (1928–2014) was a renowned poet, autobiographer, and civil rights activist, often referred to as “America’s most visible black female autobiographer”. Throughout her lifetime, she was the subject of many questions about her personal life, but the most prominent one being if Maya Angelou was ever married.

Despite the fact that Angelou was a highly successful public figure and a revolutionary literary artist, a great deal of her life still remains a mystery. Angelou published seven autobiographies in her lifetime, each of them containing some personal information about her life, however, she kept most of it away from the public.

Angelou was married three times in her life: first to Greek sailor, Tosh Angelos from 1951 to 1952, second to South African freedom fighter, Vusumzi Make from 1960 to 1962, and third to a wonderful and beloved husband, Paul du Feu, a carpenter and motor mechanic from London, in 1973. Unfortunately, du Feu and Angelou got divorced in 1981. After their divorce, Maya Angelou never married again.

Although Maya Angelou wrote a great number of poems, short stories, and novels, her autobiographies are by far her greatest pieces of work, as they showed her wisdom and her determination. Although she wrote a great deal regarding her life events, like abuse, poverty, and rape, there were an astonishing number of topics Angelou left out; probably the most prominent one of them being her marriages.

That said, there is potential for an unknown marriage of Angelou’s to be discovered in the future, but for now, the confirmed marriages of Maya Angelou are the aforementioned three. Moreover, Angelou also had a son, Guy Johnson, from her marriage to Tosh Angelos. The couple adopted the name Angelou for their son.

Maya Angelou’s First Marriage

Maya Angelou’s first marriage was to a Greek sailor, Tosh Angelos, which happened to be a briefly celebrated one in the black musical circles of San Francisco. They married in 1951, shortly after Maya Angelou, who was at that time known as Marguerite Johnson, dropped out of high school after becoming pregnant. Angelos served as a father figure and offered support to Johnson, who subsequently performed with him at jazz and blues clubs.

However, later on, Angelos demanded custody of their son, Guy, which culminated in an epic courtroom battle between Johnson and Angelos. Johnson ultimately won the battle, and consequently, chose to change her name to Maya Angelou for the spiritual power behind the name, as well as to honor her first husband.

The exact details of their relationship are not known, but Angelou refused to talk about them during her lifetime. While Angelou was never known to speak about the exact details of their relationship, she did express several times her dissatisfaction with him in her famous autobiographical narratives.

Maya Angelou’s Second Marriage

Maya Angelou’s second marriage was to a South African freedom fighter, Vusumzi Make, who she met in the early 1960s while she was in Cairo, Egypt. The two were quite attracted to each other even before they truly got to know each other, and eventually decided to tie the knot.

The marriage, however, only lasted two short years. Perhaps due to the fact that Angelou and Make came from two different worlds, one that was more Western and one more African, which ultimately made it difficult to have a meaningful relationship.

Make expressed a sincere admiration for his wife’s work, however, he could not fully understand her lifestyle in the Western world. Similarly, Angelou could not acquiesce to his expectations and values, which resulted in the marriage falling apart.

Even though the couple divorced in the year 1962, the two remained very good friends until the day that Maya Angelou passed away.

Maya Angelou’s Third Marriage

Maya Angelou’s third marriage was to a wonderful and beloved husband, Paul du Feu, a carpenter and motor mechanic from London. It was ten years after her second marriage ended, in 1973, that Angelou decided to wed again.

The two were married for eight years before finally calling it quits in 1981, however, Angelou mostly attributed their break-up to personal changes within each individual rather than marriage. This can also be seen in her description of her relationship with du Feu in her book, A Singers Garment.

In the book, Angelou spoke in a very positive light about her marriage with du Feu, attributing it with immense love, care, and understanding, however, she also expressed that the two grew apart and both seemed to have outgrown their marriage.

It appears that despite the fact that they amicably separated after eight great years, both Angelou and du Feu agreed that the relationship had simply run its course. This was also the last known marriage of Maya Angelou, as she never tied the knot again.

Maya Angelou’s Relationship With the Father of Her Son

As mentioned before, Maya Angelou’s first marriage was to a Greek sailor and jazz musician, Tosh Angelos; the marriage lasted one year and ended as a result of Angelos’s demanding for custody of their son, Guy Johnson, who was born seven months after their wedding.

Tosh Angelos had acted as a father figure for Angelou and her son, and a great love existed between the two of them. Angelou, in her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which detailed the early years of her life, expressed that Angelos was truly a great man and that there were no dangers in him for her children.

However, Angelos did not approve of her decision to move back to Stamps and become a Christian. Nevertheless, the two remained on very good terms until his death in 1976. In addition, Angelou, who changed her name to Maya Angelou to honor him, named her only son, Guy Johnson, after her ex-husband.

Maya Angelou’s Relationship With Her Current Husband

When it comes to her current husband, there is not much information available, as Maya Angelou never married again after her third marriage to Paul Du Feu. As mentioned earlier, she wrote positive accounts of her relationship with du Feu, crediting it to immense love and understanding.

Despite the fact that Angelou and du Feu did not end their relationship on negative terms, she fell into a deep depression after their split, which caused her writing to slow down significantly. It is possible to infer from this that Angelou was, in fact, deeply in love with her third husband, however, these specific details remain a mystery.

Even though, for quite some time, Angelou was thought to have gotten married again after her divorce with Paul du Feu in 1981, this was proven to be false by her friend, Vus Make, who claimed that she never tied the knot again. Thus, it appears that du Feu was the last romantic tryst of Maya Angelou’s fascinating life.

Connotation Around Maya Angelou’s Relationships

The connotations surrounding Maya Angelou’s relationships are complex, due to the fact that she wrote positive accounts of her marriage with du Feu and the father of her son, while refusing to talk about the exact details of her second marriage with Vus Make.

Although Angelou touched upon a great number of topics in her autobiography, her marriages were the least discussed. This can lead to some speculating that Angelou may have tried to avoid talking about them for fear of reproach or criticism, though this has never been confirmed.

However, one thing is for certain; Angelou’s relationships with the men she was married to seemed to have been quite diverse. Whether it was her first marriage to a jazz musician, her second to a South African freedom fighter, or her third to a carpenter from the United Kingdom.

Angelou has certainly not been shy to seek love and romance, though she may have been particularly cautious after her divorce from Paul du Feu. Whatever the case, it is clear that her relationships were as complex as her literature.

What Would Maya Angelou’s Spouse Be Like?

Ever since Maya Angelou’s passing in 2014, her fans have been imagining what her spouse would be like if she were to marry again. Judging from her relationships in her lifetime, one might assume that she would have wanted someone who was passionate, devoted to a cause bigger than themselves, and firm in their beliefs.

In addition, Angelou was known to have been a quite strong individual who was not afraid to stand her ground and oppose the status quo. Her spouse would thus have to be patient, understanding, and encouraging in order to foster the passion and strength she was known for.

Similarly, Angelou’s language was also cited as being quite colorful and emotive, which could be attributed to the fact that she was quite an expressive person. Her ideal partner would thus have to be able to appreciate her wit and her blooming creativity in order to partake in stimulating conversations.

All in all, it is certain that the relationship between Maya Angelou and her future husband would have been a meaningful one, full of lively conversations, intense debates, and passionate beliefs. It is a shame that this will remain merely a figment of the imagination, as Maya Angelou, who had a heart full of love, will never get the opportunity to share it ever again.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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