Maya Angelou was an African-American author, playwright, poet, dancer, actress, and singer. Her illustrious 50-year career included publishing 36 books, including volumes of poetry and three books of essays. Angelou is credited also for producing and acting in several plays, musicals, movies, and TV shows. She is best known, however, for her first autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969). The book depicts the tragedies of Angelou's traumatic childhood, detailing a brutal rape at 7 1/2, and an early adulthood encumbered by teenage pregnancy.