Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley

Death 5 Dec 1784 (aged 30–31)
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA
Burial Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA
Memorial ID 6643184 · View Source
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Author. Phillis Wheatley was the first African-American to publish a book. She was born in Senegambia (now Senegal) in west Africa. As a child Phillis was taken into captivity and shipped to Boston where she was sold into slavery at the age of eight to John and Susanna Wheatley who named her Phillis after the ship she sailed on. After begining to work for the Wheatleys as Susanna's personal maid, Phillis started to show signs of being intellectually gifted. The Wheatley's daughter, Mary, began to instruct her in reading the Bible. After just sixteen months in the New World she could read English and later mastered Latin. Phillis first published poem appeared in a Rhode Island newspaper in 1767. After failed attempts to find subcribers for her proposed volume of her poems, a wealthy philantropist from England agreed to back the project. Phillis's book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773) made her a celebrity throughout England and the colonies. Wheatley eventually attained her independence and continued to write, publishing another volume of poetry in 1784, but struggled to support her three children, and died destitute at 31. Beyond being merely the first African-American to publish, she produced a quality of style and range of themes that inspired generations of black writers after her.

Bio by: Curtis Jackson

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 28 Jul 2002
  • Find a Grave Memorial 6643184
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Phillis Wheatley (c.1753–5 Dec 1784), Find a Grave Memorial no. 6643184, citing Copp's Hill Burying Ground, Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .