Phillis Wheatley was a talented, young African American poet who achieved great things. Phillis had unusual talents for her age, her race, and for a woman. Most women at the time did not focus on writing, and did not have the talent that Phillis naturally had. Woman in that time did not have a marvelous education.
Phillis was born in 1753, in which is now Senegal, West Africa. Phillis was kidnapped and brought to Boston on a slave ship in 1761, and John Wheatley bought Phillis for his wife. She was treated kindly in the Wheatley household; she was treated like she was one of their own. The Wheatley’s encourage her to study, and encouraged her to increase her knowledge, knowing her talent they did not want to put it to waste. Phillis mastered Latin, Greek, and English in a short amount of time because she was such a quick learner. She also expanded her knowledge on history, geography, religion, and the Bible. At old South meeting house she was baptized into Christian religion.
Later in Phillis life she wrote her first poem, when she was just 13 years old. She had to prove her unique poetry was hers, and she was inspected by a group of Boston luminaries. Publishers in Boston refused to publish her work because they did not believe that an African American slave should have such rights and education. Even though her work was not published, and many tried to discourage her from her talent, she still had hope, and that is what made Phillis such a strong, independent girl. Phillis went with the Wheatley’s son to London to get her book published. The countess of Huntingdon and the Earl of Dartmouth helped her get her book published. “Poems on Various Subjects, and Religious Moral” was her first book to be published, and she was the first African American to get her book published. She had many friends in London, and many supporters. Her book “Poems on Various Subjects” contained 39 of her poems. In 1768 she wrote a poem “To the Kings Most Excellent Majesty” which was dedicated to King George III for praising his decision on cancelling the stamp act. “She soon became an instant hit in Boston and received great admiration and acclaim for her work.” Her knowledge and writing capabilities surprised many whites because it was very unusual for an African American to have such rights and talent. Her popularity grew in the United States and England. Phillis was freed October 18th, 1773. She was strongly against slavery and enslaved labor, and she believed that independence should be a right for each and everyone in the world. In March of 1776 she gave a recital of her poetry before General Washington.
Phillis Wheatley’s writing style was very unique and her poems were mostly written in Elegiac Poetry style. Her poems focused on moral and religious subjects, she also wrote heroic couplets. Her poems were dedicated to famous people, and her poems focused on the theme Christian Salvation.
When Phillis Wheatley was a young woman, she married a free African American named John Peters. She had three children and two died as infants. Later after their marriage, John left her with her only child. She worked hard trying to maintain her life, she earned a living by being a seamstress, and poetess. In December of 1784 she left for Heaven Abode, hours after her death her third child departed. Phillis Wheatley is known for being the first African American Poet.
Phillis never asked for anything more than to be free, and to have equal rights. She displayed her talent, many believed she was a fake, having someone else write her poetry, but then again she also had many who supported her through her tough times, and her rough childhood. Phillis Wheatley was a talented young, African American poet who achieved great things.
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