Birthplace: The Gambia, West Africa
Graduate of Rust College
Wheatley was born in approximately 1753, in West Africa. In 1761, she
was transported on a slave ship to Boston, MA. There, she was sold to
John and Susanna Wheatley. They purchased her to be a domestic servant,
but when Susanna realized that Phillis was interested in learning, she
allowed her daughter Mary to teach Phillis Latin, English, and the Bible.
Wheatley soon began writing poetry, and her first published poem appeared
in the Newport Mercury newspaper on December 21, 1767. She was
the first African American – and the second American woman –
to be published.
Virtual Field Trip: Black History in Boston
From Teaching History Online, this page features excerpts from different accounts of Wheatley's life.
Poems by Phillis Wheatley
|Return to the Encyclopedia
of Prominent African Americans.