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The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Wheatley, Phillis

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WHEATLEY, Phillis, a negro poetess, born in Africa about 1753, died in Boston, Dec. 5, 1794. She was brought to Boston in 1761, was purchased by Mrs. Wheatley, was instructed by her mistress and her daughters, and acquired a superior education. She wrote verses at the age of 14, and at 19 visited England, where she attracted much attention. A volume of her poems was published there, containing her portrait, and bearing the title, “Poems on various Subjects, Religious and Moral, by Phillis Wheatley, Negro Servant to Mr. John Wheatley of Boston, in New England” (London, 1773). It was reprinted in Boston, and passed through several editions. The family of Mr. Wheatley being broken up by death, she married a negro named Peters, and her last days were spent in extreme want. Her letters were privately printed in 1864.