The 1773 publication of Wheatley's Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, brought her fame, with dignitaries such as George Washington praising her work. Wheatley also toured England and was praised in a poem by fellow African American poet Jupiter Hammon. Wheatley was emancipated by her owners after her poetic success, but stayed with the Wheatley family until the death of her former master and the breakup of his family. She then married a free black man, who soon left her. She died in poverty in 1784 while working on a second book of poetry, which has now been lost.
The following is a Copy of a LETTER sent
by the Author's Master to the Publisher.
PHILLIS was brought from Africa to America, in the Year 1761, between seven and eight Years of Age. Without any Assistance from School Education, and by only what she was taught in the Family, she, in sixteen Months Time from her Arrival, attained the English language, to which she was an utter Stranger before, to such a degree, as to read any, the most difficult Parts of the Sacred Writings, to the great Astonishment of all who heard her.
As to her WRITING, her own Curiosity led her to it; and this she learnt in so short a Time, that in the Year 1765, she wrote a Letter to the Rev. Mr. OCCOM, the Indian Minister, while in England.
She has a great Inclination to learn the Latin Tongue, and has made some Progress in it. This Relation is given by her Master who bought her, and with whom she now lives.
Boston, Nov. 14, 1772.
e-text Renascence Editions Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral by
Child of the Name of Avis, aged one Year.
George Wallace stated: “Phillis Wheatley accomplishments aside, and they are impressive, she is not considered the first published African-American poet in America. That title goes to Jupiter Hammon.”
So to be Politically correct Binding Ink states: Phillis Wheatley 1st Published Female African American Poet
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