Black Fact of the Week: Phillis Wheatley Becomes the First Published African American Female Poet

Phillis Wheatley

Stolen from her native West Africa, Phillis Wheatley was sold into slavery at the age of seven. In 1761, she was purchased by the Wheatley family in Boston, Massachusetts who taught her to read and write English, Latin, and Greek; despite the fact that educating slaves was both a dangerous and uncommon practice.

Noticing her supreme abilities in the literary arts, the Wheatleys encouraged Phillis to pursue poetry. And in 1773, her Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral famously made her the first published African American female poet in history, and the second published African American.

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