Phyllis Wheatley: Slave and Poet by Gerald W. Morton
Biographies & Memoris | Ethnic & National
Phyllis Wheatley: Slave and Poet
PublishAmerica (March 3, 2008)
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Phyllis Wheatley holds a special place in American history. She was one of the first American women to publish poetry and was the first Black American woman to achieve this success in the literary world. Phyllis was fortunate to have been purchased by John Wheatley, a Boston businessman, to serve as a companion to his wife. Mrs. Wheatley encouraged Phyllis to learn to read and write and later assisted her in her efforts to publish her poetry. The result was that Phyllis was celebrated in England as well as America, having at one point been invited to meet General George Washington. Despite the support for Phyllis, however, the Wheatleys were not abolitionists. She remained a slave until Mrs. Wheatleys death and was then freed, but given no assistance at becoming self-sufficient. Her celebrated life as a poet did nothing to prepare her for freedom, and Phyllis Wheatley married poorly and then died alone with nothing more than passing notice in a Boston obituary.
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