Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Phillis Wheatley Biography

Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784)
v     Born in Africa
v     Sold into slavery at the age of 7, and transported to Boston in 1761. The name of the slave ship was The Phillis.
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 London, 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.
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.

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