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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, a Black woman's first book of poetry was published in America.

Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, by Phillis Wheatley, was published. When her owner, the Wheatleys, saw her writing on a wall with chalk. Rather than punish her, the Wheatleys encouraged her to learn. Their daughter tutored her in reading and writing.  She also studied English literature, Latin, and the Bible, but she did best writing 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 could not meet in person, the Countess helped Wheatley publish a volume of her poetry in 1773.

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The Academy of American Poets
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