Who Was Maya Angelou Married To

Maya Angelou was an African American poet, author, and storyteller who married three times throughout her life. Her first husband was Tosh Angelos, a Greek American electrician, whom she married in 1951. While they separated shortly after they married, they maintained contact throughout their lives. In 1962, Maya married Greek sailor Vusumzi Make, and the couple had one son. The relationship began to deteriorate after eight years, leading to their eventual separation in 1970. While still married to Vusumzi, Maya had a brief affair with South African freedom fighter Vus Make in 1966, and the couple had a daughter Lon Sing Lee in 1967.

In 1973, Maya married Paul du Feu, a carpenter from England, and remained with him until the union ended in 1978. During her marriage to du Feu, Maya also developed a close relationship with actor Bill Kennedy, whom she dated for a short period in 1978 before Kennedy died of lung cancer. Maya was a fierce advocate for gender equality throughout her life, and actively spoke out against domestic violence and misogyny.

While her first two marriages ended in divorce, the third could not legally because Maya and Paul were married in the United Kingdom, and British laws did not allow divorce at the time. In addition to her three marriages, Maya was close to other male figures in her life, including her former professor at California State University, John Killens, who was a father figure to her.

Maya’s first marriage to Tosh Angelos was brief, due to his family’s disapproval. She had already had her first child— Tom Jr. — at the age of 17 before she married Angelos; thus, the marriage was a way for Maya to legitimize her relationship with Angelos and her relationship with her son. The rapid end of Maya’s first marriage impacted her view of relationships and her perceptions of men throughout her life.

In contrast to her first marriage, Maya developed a closer relationship with Vusumzi Make, who she met after moving to Cairo in 1961. The couple had the one son together, Guy Johnson, and their relationship lasted for almost nine years before their mutual interest in pursuing different goals led to their separation. The breakdown of Maya’s relationship with Make was a big life event for her as it marked a major turning point in her life, leading to her rediscovery of self-confidence.

The end of Maya’s relationship with Vusumzi catalyzed her reunion with South African freedom fighter Vus Make in 1966. The two had kept in touch since their brief encounter in the United States. Their relationship was the result of the connection which both felt for their shared struggle for human rights. Although their relationship was brief, Maya felt a deep connection with Make, eventually leading him to become the father of her daughter, Lon Sing Lee.

Maya’s third and final marriage was to Paul du Feu in 1973. The couple met while Paul was visiting Africa as part of a volunteer mission, and soon decided to move in together. The period after their marriage was a period of relative stability for Maya, especially in contrast to her earlier relationships. The couple had a strong relationship, and their marriage lasted until 1978. Throughout her life, Maya remained loyal to the memories of those whom she had loved and associated with intimately, even after their partings and deaths.

Tosh Angelos

Tosh Anton Angelos was a Greek-American electrician, originally from Toledo, Ohio. He and Maya entered into a passionate relationship at a young age, but were forced to keep it a secret due to the disapproval of Maya’s boss. In 1951, Maya married Angelos, but the marriage was short-lived as Tosh’s family objected to the relationship and demanded their separation. Maya and Angelos maintained contact throughout their lives, and although their relationship was brief, it had a great influence on her view of relationships and her perceptions of men throughout her life.

The love Maya held for Angelos was evident in her daughter, Guy Johnson, who she named after Tosh. Guy resembled Tosh in many ways—his physical features, his intelligence, and his interests. Maya spoke fondly of the time she had spent with Angelos, demonstrating the deep emotion she felt for him still.

Maya wrote extensively about her relationship with Tosh Angelos in her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She spoke candidly of the impacts of their separation, and the internal struggle she had gone through in both recognizing and coming to terms with his abandonment of her. Maya also claimed that it was her first husband who first instigated her interest in writing poetry, a literary style which she would become well-known for.

Vusumzi Make

Vusumzi Make was a Greek sailor, two years older than Maya. After the disintegration of her first marriage, Maya moved to Egypt in 1961 to be with Make. They moved into a home in Cairo, with Make’s salary sustaining the family. Shortly after they moved, they had their only son, Guy Johnson, named partially after Maya’s first husband Tosh Angelos.

The couple’s relationship began to deteriorate after being together for nearly a decade. Vusumzi was dissatisfied with the lack of progress in their relationship, often using his financial power to dominate Maya. In a letter to her close friend, Maya wrote “He talks lovingly of our future, but I think it is only to assure me that he won’t leave.” Maya’s relationship with Make ended in 1970, when she moved back to the United States and resumed her writing career.

In many ways, Make’s relationship with Maya was even more intense than that of her first husband’s, as he provided a great deal of stability and comfort for her during their relationship. Here, Maya found great solace from her past. Make also inspired her to explore the hidden depths of her own character, with comments such as “You are a woman and a great one!”

Though Make was not present in Maya’s later life, she remained loyal to the memories of him even after his death. In addition to the stamp of approval he had given to Maya’s later work, Maya also dedicated her first book Heart of a Woman to Make. His presence in Maya’s memories reflected the strong bond they shared during their years together.

Vus Make

Vus Make was a South African freedom fighter and leader of the African National Congress (ANC) in exile. He and Maya had a brief affair in 1966, which led to her becoming pregnant with her second child, daughter Leon Sing Lee. Make was very supportive of Maya during her pregnancy, and Maya felt a connection with Make that she had not experienced with anyone before.

Make had a great admiration for Maya’s writing, which she credited as a major factor in their relationship. He particularly enjoyed her poem ‘The Heart of a Woman’, which she wrote in dedication to him. This poem was an immense source of motivation and encouragement for Maya, who credited Make’s support as a major factor in her own creative growth.

Maya felt a great closeness with Make, as they both shared a passion for freedom and justice. Indeed, she saw much of her own beliefs and aspirations in Make, and he had a profound impact on her life. Make supported Maya in her success, and the two were often seen offering one another praise for their respective accomplishments.

Though their relationship was short-lived, Maya and Make kept in touch throughout their lives. The bond that the couple shared was special and unique, with Make providing an immense emotional support for Maya at a time of great turmoil. Whether it be through his words of admiration for her work, or his passionate defence of human rights and freedom, Make was a consistent presence in Maya’s life and left a deep impression on her.

Paul Du Feu

Paul Gerald Du Feu was a carpenter from Northern Ireland, whom Maya met while he was visiting Africa as part of a volunteer mission. The two decided to move in together, eventually leading to their marriage in 1973. Their union lasted until 1978, when legal constraints prevented them from proceeding with a divorce.

The relationship between Maya and Paul was unique, as they both felt a strong connection to one another, often finding solace in one another’s arms. This sentiment is evident in Maya’s book All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes, where she thanked Paul for his unconditional love and kindness, which she claimed kept her “sojourning self” warm during a cold period in her life.

The couple faced many challenges together, particularly when Maya discovered she had Breast cancer in 1977. Despite this, Paul remained a devoted caretaker of Maya’s during what was an undoubtedly difficult period. He provided her with comfort, setting up a routine for her recovery. His presence in Maya’s life was calming and reassuring, allowing her to cope with the situation.

In 1978, Maya and Paul’s relationship came to an abrupt end; however, the love and loyalty Maya held for him never ceased. In All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes, Maya recalled “the sweet memory of being in his strong arms and being held and kissed” and expressed her gratitude for the solace that Paul provided her during her recovery.

John Killens

John Oliver Killens was an African American writer, civil rights activist, and professor of English at California State University. He met Maya in 1957 during her studies at the University, and became a father figure to her. He had great admiration for Maya’s writing and her ability to express complex emotions and experiences in words.

Maya and Killens had a strong relationship, often discussing literature and art, and Killens was Maya’s mentor and confidante. He provided her with a safe and understanding environment, offering her guidance in making difficult decisions. During her time with Killens, Maya’s writing flourished, and he eventually helped to publish her first work, Calypso Songbook.

Killens demonstrated a great deal of respect for Maya, something that she found invaluable. He was an active defender of her work, personally making sure she received the recognition she deserved and encouraging her to pursue new creative projects. His loyal support was something that left a deep impression on Maya, and without it, she may not have become a celebrated author.

Maya and Killens remained friends until his death in 1987, and throughout her life, she remained loyal to the memories of those whom she had loved and associated with intimately. Killens was a supportive and loyal friend, who provided her with emotional guidance during difficult times. His presence in Maya’s life was invaluable, and she truly appreciated all that he did for her.

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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