Phillis Wheatley

by: Lauren


I see large men with dark, threatening clothes stomping their huge feet with pounding fists, ready to go to fight if any one of us Africans refuse to be sold as a slave. I can feel my own horror sweat dripping down my body, not wanting to be kidnapped. I see my peers being taken away and I hear screams of terror. I feel some heavy hand grab my shoulder and pull me away, making sure I can't go, not that I would even dare. Even though I would hate to be a slave. If only I could do something great, like be a slave poet.

Early Life

During 1753, Phillis Wheatley was born in Africa. Her life was dull, working and struggling with all of the other poor kids, up until she was 8 years old. Then, she was kidnapped and shipped to North America to be sold as a slave to John and Susannah Wheatley. She was now part of the Wheatley family with John, Susannah, and Nathaniel Wheatley. All very religious, like Phillis herself. This was during 1761- she was 8 years old. Then, instead of being the particular slave she was taught to read and write by Susannah Wheatley. She also learned Latin and Greek. That allowed her to start writing poems (mostly elegies) which she worked very hard at, beginning at 13 years old. Her first poem was published in 1765 when she was 15 years old. A year later, she got baptized when she was 18 years old. (Technically an adult)

Adult Life

1763 was a very big year for Phillis Wheatley. She got freed from slavery! Woohoo! She also sailed to London, and got her first book published. She was 20 years old. After that, she met George Washington when she was 23! That must have been an exciting journey. About 2 years after this, she got married to John Peters, during 1778. They had a happy life together even while in poverty. She had a long period of happiness with John. She married him when she was 25. She lived until December 5, 1784 . Phillis Wheatley died in poverty.


She was an astonishing person. She hated being a slave, but she pushed through and became an amazing poet, using slavery as the inspiration for her to promote freedom in her poetry. She was the first African American to get a book published in the United States, proving that skin color doesn’t matter, as she said “Hope to divine acceptance with th’ Almighty mind” She proved that everyone can achieve something as long as they simply follow their dreams.


Follow your dreams like Phillis Wheatley did. You can achieve success and overcome other things that hold you back. Nothing is impossible, even though some great things may seem so. You can always push through hard things, and achieve your dreams.


Book Resources

Jacquelyn, McLendon. Phillis Wheatley A Revolutionary Poet. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., 2003. Print.

Doak, Robin. Phillis Wheatley Slave and Poet. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2006. Print.

Purdie, Laura. Phillis Wheatley Colonial American Poet. Mankado: Capstone Press, 2006. Print.

Lasky, Kathryn. A Voice of Her Own The Story of Phillis Wheatley, Slave Poet. Cambridge: Candlewick Press , 2003. Print.

Online Resources


World Book

Sirs Discovery

Badger Link