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Phillis Wheatley Was Just 12-Years Old When She Became the First Black Female Author to Be Published

Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley, known for her literature and poetry work, had quite an interesting experience in her early life. She was kidnapped from her home in West Africa when she was just 9 or 10 years old, and sold to the Wheatley family in Boston, Massachussetts. But they were they ones who taught her to read and write in English, and encouraged her to write poetry when they discovered that she had a talent for it.
By the time Phillis was just 12-years old in 1773, she had already published her first poem - which officially established her as the first African American female author to ever be published.

She went on to learn several other languages including Greek and Latin, and became quite famous for her published poetry. A lot of her poems celebrated the United States of America, whose struggle for independence was often used as a metaphor for religious or racial freedom.

Overall, Phillis avoided the topic of slavery in her poetry, but one of her works in 1768 entitled, “On Being Brought from Africa to America,” did throw a soft punch to white Christians. It reads, “Remember, Christians, Negroes, black as Cain / May be refined, and join th’ angelic train.”

Despite her literary success, Phillis reportedly was still working as a servant near the end of her life, and sadly, she died in poverty.