Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784)
v Born in
v Sold into slavery at the age of 7, and transported to
in 1761. The name of the slave ship was The
v She was bought by John Wheatley, a wealthy merchant and progressive. His family taught her to read and write, and encouraged her poetry. By the age of 12, she could read Greek and Latin.
v In 1772 Phillis was tried in court. People couldn’t believe that a slave girl could write poetry. She won the case.
v In 1773 she traveled to
, and published a
book of poems, Poems on Various Subjects,
Religious and Moral, which made her famous. She included the verdict of the
court case, proving that she was the author. London
v Phillis supported the American Revolution and wrote a poem praising George Washington.
v On the death of her master in 1778, Phillis was set free and soon married.
v Her good fortune didn’t last. Two of her children died as infants, and her husband was imprisoned for his debts in 1784. Phillis had to work as a maid to make money.
v Phillis died, age 31, from an illness, and her third infant, a son, died just three hours after.
v Her portrait was drawn by Scipio Moorhead, a freed slave who became an artist.