Phillis Wheatley

A brief article about poet Phillis Wheatley.
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Birthplace: The Gambia, West Africa
Graduate of Rust College

Wheatley was born in approximately 1753, in West Africa. In 1761, she was transported on a slave ship to Boston, MA. There, she was sold to John and Susanna Wheatley. They purchased her to be a domestic servant, but when Susanna realized that Phillis was interested in learning, she allowed her daughter Mary to teach Phillis Latin, English, and the Bible. Wheatley soon began writing poetry, and her first published poem appeared in the Newport Mercury newspaper on December 21, 1767. She was the first African American – and the second American woman – to be published.

Related Resources


From Teaching History Online, this page features excerpts from different accounts of Wheatley's life.

Poems by Phillis Wheatley

Black History Month Return to the Encyclopedia
of Prominent African Americans

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