Phillis Wheatley – First Published African-American

Phillis Wheatley (1753 – December 5, 1784), a girl named after the ship that brought her from the continent where she was born (Senegal, Africa), bought by prominent “progressive” John Wheatley as a servant for his wife, was known by many in “her” time, maybe as an insightful woman, as well as the first native African person to have some of their writing published.

Phillis, being adopted by a relatively “open-minded” family, and having a interest to do so, had learned enough by the time she was a young girl to display her ability to comprehend relatively “complex” literature and alike. The Wheatley’s, having taken note of her inclination to literature and alike, “took stock” in her “learning”, per say. With the mind that she had shaped with her countless experiences and thoughts, Phillis wrote her first poem that was to be published and appear in a newspaper called “The Newport Mercury” on December 21, 1767. A poem simply and seemingly “accurately” titled “On Messrs Hussey and Coffin”:

 

“Did Fear and Danger so perplex your Mind,

As made you fearful of the Whistling Wind?

Was it not Boreas knit his angry Brow

Against you? or did Consideration bow?”

-Phillis Wheatley

In 1773 “Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral” was published.

“Memoir and Poems of Phillis Wheatley” was published in 1834. “The Letters of Phillis Wheatley, the Negro Slave Poet of Boston” appeared in 1864.

 


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