Στήλη: Biographies


By Louise Charalampopoulou, Semina Solomou and Veronika Pefani

The American Maya Angelou has dabbled in poetry, song, prose, activism and has been a university professor. She has received many awards and honors for her works (poems, plays, films, television programs). Her most important and recognized works are the seven biographies she made on the theme of her childhood and her early years as an adult.angelou photo 3

Her maiden name was Marguerite Johnson and she was born on April 4th 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother was called Vivian and she was a nurse, her father was called Bailey and he was a nutritionist and she also had an older brother whose name was Bailey Jr. Her name, Maya, was created by her brother and it was deprived of the word “My” or “Mya sister”

Her childhood was really difficult especially after the breakup of her parents. She and her brother were at the age of 3 and 4 when their parents decided to send them to their grandma. There the situation was much better given that their grandma had financial comfort in contrast with other African Americans. After four years they came back and her mother married another man, Freeman, who tried to rape her at the age of 8. After she told it to her family, the man was found dead, probably from her uncles. This was too much for her! She was thinking that his death was her fault and that it was wrong telling it to someone. As she has said she believed that her voice killed him and after this event she stopped talking for 5 years. While she was going through this, she discovered her love of literature, books and poetry.

After this tragic experience she moved again to her grandma with her brother. There she met a lot of important writers like Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Douglas Johnson, James Weldon Johnson and others who influenced her. These people played a role of major importance in her life. When she turned 14, she moved for one more time to her mother, in California but this time for good.

During the second World War she studied in the Labor School in California. Three weeks after her graduation she got pregnant at the age of 17. She named her son Clyde but, in the future, he decided to change his name to Guy Johnson.

After marrying Tosh Angelos and receiving his last name, Maya started her dancing career. She then moved to the Big Apple to study African dance, but angelou photo 2returned to California soon after. By the time she was divorced in 1954 she managed to dance professionally in clubs and she changed her professional name to «Maya Angelou» since it was unique. Furthermore, Angelou toured Europe and learned the language of every country she visited really well. In 1957, she recorded her first album. In 1959, she relocated to New York and became a member of the Harlem Writers Guild and her work was printed for the first time. In 1960, after encountering civil liberties leader Martin Luther King Jr. and hearing his speech, she organized the Cabaret for Freedom to aid the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, making her a civil rights advocate.

In 1961, after meeting Vusumzi Make, he moved with them to Cairo. After breaking up, in 1962, she and Guy moved to Accra, Ghana until 1965. During that time, she became an administrator at the University of Ghana, an editor and writer for multiple foreign publications, and close friends with Malcolm X. When he was assassinated, she moved to Hawaii, after staying in the U.S. to help build the Organization of Afro-American Unity, but she returned to New York and Martin Luther King Jr. asked her to organize a march. After 2 years she was the first Black woman to produce a screenplay. She married Paul du Feu in 1973, while being nominated for a Tony Award and being given many awards. However, they separated in 1981, when she received the lifetime Reynolds Professorship of American Studies at Wake Forest University for a variety of lessons.

In 1993, Angelou recited her poem «On the Pulse of Morning» at the presidential inauguration of Bill Clinton, whose recording won a Grammy Award. In June 1995, she performed «A Brave and Startling Truth» which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. She, also, played in movies and directed a feature film, “Down in the Delta”. In 2011, Angelou was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In addition, she donated her personal papers and career memorabilia and served as an advisor for Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Angelou passed away on May 28, 2014, in Winston-Salem. In 2022, Angelou became the very first Black woman to be featured on an American coin.Angelou photo 1

Maya Angelou has written 7 autobiographies. She began writing books at the beginning of World War II and stopped with the assassination of Martin Luther King. A year before her death, aged 85, her last autobiography, «Mom& Me & Mom «, was published. In 1969 her play: «I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings» was released. From 1944 to 1948 she wrote «Gather Together in My Name», which was released in 1974. The very next year she began writing «Singin” and Swingin” and Gettin” Merry Like Christmas», which was finished six years later (1955). «The Heart of a Woman» was published in 1981 and was written between 1957 and 1962. In 1962 – 1965 she composed «All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes» and a year later and within three years he wrote «A Song Flung Up to Heaven» released in 2002.

Critics classify Angelou’s works as autobiographical novels because of specific narrative techniques such as dialogue, development of theme, setting, plot, and language. She expands the subject, criticizes, makes changes and thus questions the common structure of the autobiography. Her autobiographies are written by a single author, her, and they follow chronological order, and include the elements of character and subject, according to Mary Jane Lupton. Many experts such as Lupton, the African-American Crispin Sartwell and Lyman B. Hagen argue that Maya Angelou does not conform to the standards of autobiographical writing but creates her own form of it. angelou photo 4

To sum up, Maya Angelou was a great personality who has left her mark with her poems, autobiographies, films, television programs in many fields. It is worth remembering her, honoring her and recognizing her value and her work!






Her majesty’s dogs

By Efrosini Nikolopoulou and Andrew Rontogiannis

`The queen and her dogs (2016)

A British nobleman called Thomas Henry Thynne once inspired Queen Elizabeth. When young Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret visited Thynne’s children, who kept a pair of corgis as pets, the young royals fell in love with the dogs.

The princesses’ parents decided 1933 to bring home a corgi named Dookie. He was the very first of the royal family’s many Welsh Corgis.

Jane, a new Corgi, soon joined the family. A reporter wrote: “The Princesses spend a lot of their free time with their dogs because the King and Queen and their children, are all dog lovers. The two Welsh corgis with the names Dookie and Jane are the most popular. The children are responsible for making sure they are brushed and exercised.” At the time, there were also golden Labradors, a Tibetan Mastiff, a Golden Retriever, and a Cocker Spaniel among the royal family.

Princess Elizabeth received Susan, her very own corgi, as a gift for turning 18 in 1944. Susan was a Pembroke Corgi.

Even on Elizabeth and Philip’s honeymoon, the dog came along.

Susan had puppies named Sugar and Honey, a year after Elizabeth gave birth to Prince Charles. Technically, Honey belonged to the Queen’s mother, and Sugar belonged to Prince Charles and Princess Anne.

Their lifestyle in the palace emphasizes the fact that the Queen once said: “My corgis are family.” According to rumors, the corgis ate steak and chicken and slept in wicker baskets in their special “corgi room” at Buckingham Palace. They accompanied the Queen as she visited her various abodes, too. The Queen believed strongly in homeopathy and herbal remedies, and every dog had their own menu. A butler always entered with eight unusual porcelain bowls, each for a different dog. The dogs were positioned in a semicircle to wait for their food bowls. Only a few owners are able to control their dogs with such discipline and organization as Her Majesty did in order for them to “wait” for their food.

In 2012 the Queen decided to stop breeding corgis. As Monty Roberts, the Queen’s dog trainer, said, “She didn’t want any more puppies in the family. She did not want to abandon any puppies. She wanted it to come to an end.” Willow, her Corgi, passed away in April 2018.

She may have stopped breeding Corgis because none of the Queen’s children loved them the way their mother did, despite the fact that the Windsor family is well-known for their love of animals, including dogs.

Prince William described the Corgis as “always barking.” “I don’t know how she handles it.”

96-year-old Queen Elizabeth II passed away on September 8 and three days later it was announced that Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson would adopt the animals, Muick and Sandy.


Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_corgis


By Stefanos Nikolaou


Helen Keller was born on June 27th, 1880 in Taskoumpia of Alabama. At the age of 19 months, she developed an unknown disease described by doctors as “acute congestion of the stomach and brain” which may have been commonly called smallpox or menigitis. The disease left her deaf and blind. She lived, as she recalled in her autobiography, “at see in a dense fog”.

Helen’s parents took her to famous doctors and teachers in order to help her. One of them, Michael Anagnos, asked a 20-year-old graduate of the school for the blind, Anna Sullivan, who also had some vision problems, to become Helen’s teacher. Sullivan immediately began teaching her to communicate by writing words in her hand. She was frustrated, at first, because she did not understand that each object had a word that identified with it in a unique way. Keller realized the meaning of the words a month later when she was surprised to learn that the movements her teacher made in her palm of her hand while running cool water over her other hand symbolized the idea of water.


In May 1888 Keller began attending the Perkins Institute for the Blind. In 1894, Keller and Sullivan move to New York to attend the Wright Humason School for the Deaf. In 1896, she entered the Cambridge School for Young Ladies before being accepted,  in 1900, to Radcliffe College of Harvard University. In 1904, at the age of 24, Keller graduated as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and became the first blind person to earn Bachelor of Arts degree. Keller wrote a total of twelve published books and various articles. At the age of 22, she published her autobiography “The story of my life” (1903), with the help of Sullivan. Keller wrote “The World I live in” in 1908, giving readers a glimpse of how she felt about the world.


Keller spent much of her later life raising money for the American Foundation for the Blind. She died in her sleep on June 1st, 1968 at her home.

Agatha Christie

Klarisa Trasani (A Class)


Agatha Christie, with full name Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, also known as Mary Westmacott, was an English crime novelist. She also wrote short stories and plays , but she is best known for her detective novels which she wrote under her own name. The most popular characters that she created are Hercule Poirot, Miss Jane Marple, Tommy and Tuppence. She also wrote the world’s longest play, The Mousetrap.

Christie was born on 15 September 1890 into a wealthy upper middle-class family in South West England and she had a very happy childhood. She took home tutoring by her parents and among others she learnt to read and write, basic arithmetic and music (the piano and the mandolin).

Christie for a long time had been a big fan of crime-detective novels. Some of her favourites were: The Woman in White and Sherlock Holmes stories.

 In 1919 she wrote her first detective novel ‘‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’ with main character Hercule Poirot a Belgian police officer who became the main character in 33 Christie’s novels.

Also during the Second World War, Christie wrote two more novels, Curtain and Sleeping Murder.

She died on 12 January 1976 and it was a huge damage to the literary community.




(By Dimitra Diamantopoulou, A Class)


Frida Kahlo was a painter, born in one of the suburbs of Mexico city in 1907. However she considered her life birth in 1910, as she wanted to be born the same year as the Mexican rebellion.  When Frida was a little girl, the family was extremely poor and it was too hard for them to get by. As a result, Frida had to work in several shops to support the family’s income.

When she was six, she went through a severe illness, and her leg was permanently damaged. Her classmates used to call her “lame Frida” and she was left with indelible traumas about it. So when she was older, she tried to provoke the others, through her weird and distinct style in clothes. After a serious car accident later, she started painting, although until then she had almost no education in this at all. This accident caused her to become isolated and left her with problems about her health for the rest of her life.

Her art can probably be described as surrealism, folk art or naïve art. Mexican rebellion obviously influenced her works. She started painting self-portraits when she was recovering from the accident. She also said   «I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.»  Her works, influenced by her internal and external traumas, her several miscarriages she had in her wedding, are filled with the emotion of pain. In her life she painted more than 140 works, 55 of them where self portraits.

She developed her own personal style of painting, by combining symbolism, Mexican Christian and Jewish tradition, but by giving to the symbols a distinct meaning. The colors used are bright. She was also greatly influenced by the artists Diego Rivera and André Breton. She fell in love with the first one and they got married.

Frida died in1954, due to a bad health condition, leaving behind her a lot of culture and beauty. Her knee suffered from gangrene and she suffered from bronchopneumonia. The cause of death was acclaimed to be pulmonary embolism, although this may had been done on purpose.