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The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Wheatley, Phillis

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WHEATLEY, Phillis, Afro-American verse writer: b. Africa, about 1753; d. Boston, 5 Dec. 1794. She was brought to Boston in 1761, was purchased by Mrs. Wheatley, and, exhibiting a fondness for books, was instructed by her mistress and her daughters, and acquired for the time a superior education, reading Latin with facility. At an early age she began to express her thoughts in verse, and some of her poems written at 14 give evidence of poetic ability. At 19 she visited England, where she attracted much attention. A volume of her poems dedicated to the countess of Huntington 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.' After return from England she published several poems, among others an address to General Washington. Her book was reprinted in Boston and passed through several editions. The family of Mr. Wheatley being broken up by death soon after her return, she married a negro named Peters, and her last days were spent in extreme want.