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Creator / Phyllis Wheatley

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Phillis Wheatley (1753-December 5, 1784) was an African American poet who is thought of to be the first African American woman to have a book of her writings published. Born in West Africa, Wheatley was enslaved at the age of seven and brought to Boston, Massachusetts, where she was purchased by the Wheatley family.

The Wheatleys recognized Wheatley's intelligence and taught her to read and write. By the age of 13, she had already written her first poem. Her writing talents were quickly recognized, and she was encouraged to continue writing and to pursue publication.

In 1773, Wheatley's first book of poetry, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, was published. The book was well-received and established Wheatley as a prominent literary figure. She became a symbol of the possibilities for African Americans in the United States, and her success challenged the prevailing racist attitudes of the time.

Wheatley's poetry explored a variety of themes, including religion, morality, and social justice. She wrote about her own experiences as an enslaved person and expressed sympathy for the plight of other oppressed people.

Despite her success, Wheatley faced significant challenges in her life. She was emancipated by the Wheatleys after the book was published, but still struggled financially and faced discrimination as a woman and as an African American. She kept writing even after she married John Peters, a free black grocer. Two of her infant children died, her husband was imprisoned for depth, she took work as a scullery maid, while still submitting her writing. She died at the age of 31, leaving behind a legacy of powerful poetry and a lasting impact on American literature and culture.


  • An Elegiac Poem, on the Death of that Celebrated Divine, and Eminent Servant of Jesus Christ, the Reverend and Learned George Whitefield (1770)
  • Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. By Phillis Wheatley, Negro Servant to Mr. John Wheatley of Boston (1773)
  • An Elegy, Sacred to the Memory of that Great Divine, The Reverend and Learned Dr. Samuel Cooper (1784)
  • Liberty and Peace, A Poem (1784)

Notable Poems

  • "A Hymn to the Evening"
  • "On Being Brought from Africa to America"
  • "On Imagination"
  • "On Virtue"
  • "To a Gentleman and Lady on the Death of the Lady's Brother and Sister, and a Child of the Name Avis, Aged One Year"
  • "To S. M. A Young African Painter, On Seeing His Works"
  • "To the Right Honorable William, Earl of Dartmouth"