Published Wednesday, 28 May 2014
US author Maya Angelou. (© Getty)
According to reports she was found at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on Wednesday.
Her death was confirmed by Wake Forest University, where Angelou was a professor of American Studies.
In a statement, the University said: "Dr Angelou was a national treasure whose life and teachings inspired millions around the world, including countless students, faculty, and staff at Wake Forest.
Her family released a statement, saying: "She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist, and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace.
"The family is extremely appreciative of the time we had with her and we know that she is looking upon us with love."
Angelou was best known for her autobiography I Know Why The Cage Bird Sings, published in 1969.
The work was the first of seven volumes chronicling her life from growing up in the US Deep South in the 1930s.
Angelou worked as an actress, singer and dancer in the 1950s and 1960s.
She was also a prolific activist, befriending Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr.
She read her poem On The Pulse Of The Morning at the inauguration of former President Bill Clinton, which sold more than one million copies in the US.
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