Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley Peters, also spelled Phyllis and Wheatly ( – December 5, 1784) was an American author who is considered the first African-American author of a published book of poetry. Born in West Africa, she was kidnapped and subsequently sold into slavery at the age of seven or eight and transported to North America, where she was bought by the Wheatley family of Boston. After she learned to read and write, they encouraged her poetry when they saw her talent.

On a 1773 trip to London with the Wheatleys' son, seeking publication of her work, Wheatley met prominent people who became her patrons. The publication in London of her ''Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral'' on September 1, 1773, brought her fame both in England and the American colonies. Prominent figures, such as George Washington, praised her work. A few years later, African-American poet Jupiter Hammon praised her work in a poem of his own.

Wheatley was emancipated by the Wheatleys shortly after the publication of her book of poems. The Wheatleys died soon thereafter and Phillis Wheatley married John Peters, a poor grocer. They lost three children, who all died young. Wheatley-Peters died in poverty and obscurity at the age of 31. Provided by Wikipedia

by Wheatley, Phillis
University of Virginia Library

by Wheatley, Phillis
Published 1773
printed for A. Bell, Bookseller, Aldgate; and sold by Messrs. Cox and Berry, King-Street, Boston

by Wheatley, Phillis
Published 1789
London: printed. : Philadelphia: re-printed, and sold by Joseph Crukshank, in Market-Street, between Second and Third-Streets

by Wheatley, Phillis
Published 1793
Re-printed, from the London edition, by Barber & Southwick, for Thomas Spencer, book-seller, Market-Street