Born in Senegal, Africa in 1753, she was sold into slavery at the age of seven to John and Susannah Wheatley of Boston. Although originally brought into the Wheatley household as a servant and attendant to Wheatley's wife, Phillis was soon accepted as a member of the family, and was raised with the Wheatley's other two children.
Phillis soon displayed her remarkable talents by learning to read and write English. At the age of twelve she was reading the Greek and Latin classics, and passages from the Bible. At thirteen she wrote her first
Phillis became a Boston sensation after she wrote a poem on the death of the evangelical preacher George Whitefield in 1770. Three years later thirty-nine of her poems were published in London as "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral." It was the first book to be published by a black American
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