Phillis Wheatley | Poetry Foundation

Phillis Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral is published

New essays on Phillis Wheatley (Book, 2011) …

Verylikely she was kidnapped into slavery; she was brought to Boston on a slaving vessel named "The Phillis." She learned to speak and write Englishvery quickly, taught by Mary Wheatley, the 18 year old daughter of herowner; within 16 months she could read difficult passages in the Bible.

Wheatley in1774 (whose illness required Phillis to return prematurely from London)and the Revolutionary war were to change her life drastically.

Free Essays on Phillis Wheatley And The American Revolution

The Wheatleys appreciated her talents, and showedher off to their friends; many came to visit with this "lively and brilliantconversationalist." She was thoroughly indoctrinated into the Calvinist theology of Congregationalism. Phillis's place was designated by her whiteworld, and she was virtually cut off from her own people, but she was definitelystill a slave, although a privileged one.

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I show how, in spite of her fame and the special indulgence of the Wheatleyfamily who owned her, Phillis was necessarily aware of her blackness; forexample, in racially segregated church pews, in the widespread menial work(street sweeping and the like) that blacks were forced to do, and in thegeneral lack of educational facilities for Boston blacks.

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