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Wed, 09.01.1773

The First American Book of Poetry by a Black woman Published

Book Cover (copy)

*On this date in 1773, the first book of poetry written by a Black woman was published in America.

Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral by Phillis Wheatley was published. When her owner the Wheatley’s saw her writing on a wall with chalk. Rather than punish her, the Wheatley’s encouraged her to learn. Their daughter tutored her in reading and writing. Wheatley also studied English literature, Latin, and the Bible, but what she did best was to write poetry.

Her first poem was published in the Newport Mercury newspaper in 1767. Six years later, in the service of the Wheatley family, Phillis Wheatley sailed to London where she hoped to meet Selina Hastings, the Countess of Huntingdon. While they were not able to meet in person, the Countess helped Wheatley publish a volume of her poetry in 1773.

The Academy of American Poets
75 Maiden Lane, Suite 901
New York, NY 10038

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