Phillis Wheatley 1 of 2
Phillis Wheatley 2 of 2

Phillis Wheatley

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Birthday
8, 1753
Birthplace
Senegal
Death Date
Dec 5, 1784 (31)
Birth Sign
Taurus
Birthday
8, 1753
Birthplace
Senegal
Death Date
Dec 5, 1784 (31)

About

Credited as the first African American woman to be published, she became famous for her 1773 poetry collection, "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral."

Before Fame

She traveled from her native West Africa to Massachusetts on a slave ship in 1761. She was sold to a family who taught her how to read and write and actively encouraged her literary talent. She was finally emancipated by her former owners, the Wheatleys, in 1778.

Trivia

Many found it hard to believe that she wrote the poems ascribed to her, and she had to defend her authorship in court.

Family Life

She married fellow freed slave, John Peters, in 1778. The couple suffered greatly from both poverty and racism, and just hours after Wheatley's death at the age of thirty-one, her infant son also passed away. She raised two other children.

Associated With

Frederick Douglass was another freed slave who became a famous author.