Wheatley, Phillis. (ca 1753 - 1784).
L i f e
- born in Africa, brought to America when she was eight, and sold to the Boston merchant Wheatley
- quickly learnt to read and write in English, encouraged by her owner to write poetry
- studied Latin, Greek, the classics, history, and the Bible (converted to Christianity)
- on her success as a poet officially granted freedom
- married a free Afro-American x but: he soon left her
- her failing marriage, death of children, and declining health resulted in her early death
P o e t r y
- occasional poems
- two thirds of her poems are elegies, the rest on religious, classical, abstract, and sometimes patriotic themes
- a surprising lack of reference to her own experience as a slave/free Afro-American
- a neo-classical style
Poems on Various Subjects, Religious, and Moral (1773):
- the first volume of poetry to be published by an Afro-American
- published in London, enchanted London society during her visits
Memoir and Poems of Phillis Wheatley (1834, posthum.)
"'Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew".
From "On Being Brought from Africa to America".
(Sketch: Wikimedia Commons).
AuthorPhillis Wheatley (ca 1753 - 1784). African-American.
WorkPoet. The first published Afro-American poet.
GenresElegy. Devotional, classical, and occasional poetry.
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