Wake Forest University in North Carolina announced Angelou's death.
She gained acclaim for her first book, her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, making her one of the first African-American women to write a best-seller.
In 1998, she directed the film Down in the Delta about a drug-wrecked woman who returns to the home of her ancestors in the Mississippi Delta.
She was the poet chosen to read at former US president Bill Clinton's first inauguration in 1993. She wrote and read an original composition, On the Pulse of Morning, which became a million-seller.