Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Famous Black Firsts: First Published Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley is someone that I have heard of when in school as far as being told that she was a poet. She was also the first Black woman to have a book published. Can't recall having to read anything that she wrote. Just knew that she was Black, a woman, and wrote. She was born in 1753 but that is a guesstimate. There are so many things about her life before she was bought as a slave. They think she was 7 years old when she was purchased by the Wheatley family which is where she got her name. Yes, that is how Black people got their names back in the day. Named after who owned us. USA! USA! USA! 

Anyhoot, she was given the name Phillis because, I'm not kidding, that was what the ship that she was brought from Africa was called. She was thankfully taught to read and write by the daughter and son of the family that owned her. By the age of 12 Phillis was reading Greek and Latin. She was so good that they let all the other slaves do the household work. She was taken to London where she began to spread her work and by the age of 25 she was freed from being a slave as according to the will of her now dead master. This sounds like a story. Three months later she married and had two children that died as infants. She continued to write even though she could not afford to have her work published. After the imprisonment of her husband she had to now do the work she was able to avoid while growing up. She died at the age of 31 and hours later so did her child. Wow. I think I know why I never heard the full story of her life in school. This is depressing.

Click here for previous Famous Black Firsts.  

No comments: