Phillis Wheatley

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Social Studies
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Phillis Wheatley

Wheatley, Phillis (1753?-1784), was the first important African American poet. She was brought to Boston on a slave ship when she was about 8 years old. John Wheatley, a wealthy merchant tailor, bought Phillis as a servant for his wife.The Wheatleys taught Phillis to read and write. She also studied geography, history, and Latin. She began to write poetry when she was about 14. In 1773, she visited England, where her Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral was published that year.Wheatley was deeply religious. Some of her poems expressed her satisfaction at becoming a Christian in American society. She also wrote about more worldly issues, as in "To the Right Honorable William, Earl of Dartmouth" (1773). In this poem, Wheatley contrasted her status as a slave with the demand of the American Colonies for independence. After returning from England, Wheatley was freed and married John Peters, a free black man. Her reputation as a poet soon declined, and she died virtually unknown on Dec. 5, 1784.

Interesting Facts

c. 1753 - Born in Senegal, West Africa1761 - Captured in Africa; brought to America, sold into slavery to Wheatleys1762 - Displayed keen aptitude for learning1767 - Published her first poem1773 - Traveled to London & had first book published1776 - Invited by George Washington to his home as thank you for her poem1784 - Died-31 yrs old

Phillis was named (by the Wheatleys) after the ship that brought her to America - the Phillis.By her late teens, Wheatley was adept at writing, reading, and speaking English, Latin, and Greek.She wrote some of her most famous poems when she was only 14.

Lasting Impact

Phillis Wheatley was an inspiration to anyone overcoming prejudices, adversities, or discrimination.


Loving, Jerome. "Wheatley, Phillis." World Book Student. World Book, 2014. Web. 10 Apr. 2014."Timeline." Timeline. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 June 2014. ."Phillis Wheatley." 2014. The website. Apr 10 2014


"Phillis Wheatley:Great American Authors"

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