Philli Phillis Wheatley: A Brief Biography

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In a time when it was not only discouraged but, in some states, illegal, there was one young African slave girl who learned how to read and write. This is not to say that she was the only person of African descent in America to learn these skills. Hers was, however, one of the most notable stories in that she went beyond just learning to read and write the English language, to become an internationally renowned poet. She wrote the first book to be published in America by an African American and the second book of poetry to be published by an American woman of any race. In addition, she was the first female American author to try to earn a living based on the money earned from her writing (Shields). Phillis Wheatley helped open the door for African American people, as well as women, who would go on to write and publish American literature and poetry, while at the same time opening the eyes of all American people to the realities of slavery. …show more content…
The exact date of her birth was, of course, unknown as she was brought to America at a young age and did not speak or understand the English language. This approximation of her age was based on the fact that she arrived in America at the time when she was losing her front primary teeth (Shields). She was transported on a cargo ship along with hundreds of other native African people. The ship, also named The Phillis, traveled across the Atlantic Ocean by way of the middle passage, docking first in Bermuda and then in Boston, Massachusetts (Great

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    Due to a series of unfortunate events, Phillis was sold into slavery at the age of eight by the British and brought to Boston, Massachusetts in the year 1761 on a slave ship called The Phillis, hence her given name. Likewise, her last name, Wheatley, was a common custom if any surname was used for slaves. She was purchased as a servant to the master’s wife, Susanna who early on began to notice that she was not like the rest of the slaves. Phillis was extremely talented in being able to turn…

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