Phillis Wheatley


Phillis Wheatley was the first African American poet and first African-American woman to publish her writing. Born in Gambia, Senegal, she was sold into slavery at the age of 7 or 8 and transported to North America. She was purchased by the Wheatley family of Boston, who taught her to read and write, and encouraged her poetry when they saw her talent.… Read More

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1753 Birth 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.
1761 8 Years Old Wheatley was brought to British-ruled Boston, Massachusetts, on July 11, 1761, on a slave ship called The Phillis. … Read More


1773 20 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1773, at the age of 20, Phillis accompanied Nathaniel Wheatley to London in part for her health, but also because Susanna believed she would have a better chance publishing her poetry there.
1774 21 Years Old In 1774, Phillis Wheatley wrote a letter to Reverend Samson Occom, commending him on his ideas and beliefs of how the slaves should be given their natural born rights in America. … Read More
1775 22 Years Old In 1775, Phillis Wheatley sent a copy of a poem entitled, “To His Excellency, George Washington” to him.
1776 23 Years Old In 1776, Washington invited Wheatley to visit him at his headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which she did in March 1776. … Read More
1778 25 Years Old In 1778, Wheatley was legally freed from slavery after her master's death, by the terms of her master's will. … Read More


Her husband John Peters was imprisoned for debt in 1784, leaving an impoverished Wheatley with a sickly infant son. … Read More
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