January 31, 2009

PHILLIS WHEATLEY

PHILLIS WHEATLEY (1753-1784)
A slave ship brought Phillis Wheatley from West Africa to Boston in 1761. John Wheatley, a wealtliy tailor, and his wife, Susannah, purchased her and gave her an American name. Her first poem appeared in print in a Newport, Rhode Island, newspaper in 1767. In 1773, thirty-nine of her poems were published in London as Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. This, her only collection of poems, was the first published book by an African-American. She was freed in 1778 and married a freedman, John Peters, but the marriage turned out badly.
Abandoned by Peters, she lived in penury in Boston. She had already lost two children, and a third lay mortally ill, when she died and was buried in an unmarked grave.
See also: philip-freneau

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