Engraving of Wheatley by Scipio Moorhead in the Frontispiece to her book of poetry. Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) was the first female African-American published poet. Born in Senegal she was sold into slavery at the age of 12 and transported to America where She was purchased by the Wheatley family of Boston, who taught her to read and write, and encouraged her poetry when they saw her talent. The publication of Wheatley's Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773) brought her fame, both in England, and the Thirteen Colonies. Wheatley was emancipated after the death of her master John Wheatley. She married soon after but she and her husband lost two children as infants. After he was imprisoned for debt in 1784, Wheatley fell...
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