Skip to main content

Phillis Wheatley – National Women’s History Museum

Despite spending much of her life enslaved, Phillis Wheatley was the first African American and second woman (after Anne Bradstreet) to publish a book of poems.

Born around 1753 in Gambia, Africa, Wheatley was captured by slave traders and brought to America in 1761. Upon arrival, she was sold to the Wheatley family in Boston, Massachusetts. Her first name Phillis was derived from the ship that brought her to America, “the Phillis.”

The Wheatley family educated her and within sixteen months of her arrival in America she could read the Bible, Greek and Latin classics, and British literature. She also studied astronomy and geography. At age fourteen, Wheatley began to write poetry, publishing her first poem in 1767. FOR MORE


Photo Credit:


MLA – Michals, Debra.  “Phillis Wheatley.”  National Women’s History Museum.  National Women’s History Museum, 2015.  Date accessed. ca. 1753-1784 Edited by Debra Michals, PhD | 2015
Chicago – Michals, Debra.  “Phillis Wheatley.”  National Women’s History Museum.  2015. 

Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia

Phillis Wheatley

Although the date and place of her birth are not documented, scholars believe that Phillis Wheatley was born in 1753 in West Africa, most likely in present-day Gambia or Senegal.[7] She was sold by a local chief to a visiting trader, who took her to Boston in the British Colony of Massachusetts, on July 11, 1761,[8] on a slave ship called The Phillis.[9] It was owned by Timothy Fitch and captained by Peter Gwinn.[9]


Photo Credit: Phillis Wheatley Historical Society

art and education, BLACK LIVES, poetry, women arts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *