PHILLIS WHEATLEY, America's first black poet, was born in Africa. At age 7, she was captured and sold into slavery. The Wheatley family purchased her and brought her to Boston. She was practically adopted by this family, and given an extensive home education. She was brought up as a Christian and loved to read the Bible. She wrote about God in future poems. Her health was frail.

She loved poetry. Her first poem was published at the age of 13. She wrote poetic tributes, including one about the Calvinist George Whitefield upon his death. She even had a poem book published in London. Her work was praised by leading figures, including George Washington. Although Thomas Jefferson was her harshest critic, questioning if she was the author.

After the Wheatleys died, Phillis married a black grocer. She worked as a servant and gave birth to 3 children, 2 of whom died in infancy. She was deserted by her husband and had poor health. She died, along with her daughter, in a boardinghouse in poverty at the age of 31.
Although she continued to write poetry her whole life before her death, her last manuscript was never found.


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