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Phillis Wheatley

Uploaded by Admin on Nov 27, 1999

Phillis Wheatley, one of America’s most profound writers, has contributed greatly to American literature, not only as a writer, but as an African American woman, who has influenced many African Americans by enriching their knowledge of and exposure to their Negro heritage and Negro literature. As one of America’s most renown writers, Wheatley, said to be the mother of African American Literature, is best known for her sympathetic portrayals of African American thought. Wheatley’s literary contributions are vast in nature and distinguish her apart from most writers of her era. Her writings have helped in the molding of the African American tradition and are favored by people of all ethnic backgrounds. Phillis Wheatley was born on the West coast of Africa. Her exact birthplace is unknown; however it is assumed that she was born near Senegambia, a territory that today is divided between the nation of Senegal and Gambia. Wheatley’s birthplace is assumed to be near Senegambia because it was in this territory that Wheatley and others were introduced into the vile conditions of slavery. Kidnapped by slave agents at the age of seven, young Phillis had to endure the struggle to America alone. "Frail young Phillis probably survived the grim voyage to America only because she was in a loose pack. If she had been part of a tight pack she might not have survived" (Franklin, 223) Phillis Wheatley arrived in Boston Massachusetts in 1761 at the age of eight. It was undoubtedly here where she was first exposed to the harsh conditions of the South. On the "stalls and auction blocks at the slave market", a wealthy Caucasian woman, named Susannah Wheatley purchased Phillis as "her personal servant and companion" (Loggins,98). Phillis Wheatley acquired her last name from Susannah Wheatley--it was the norm during this time period for slave owners to give their slaves their last names. She was named Phillis ironically "after the ship that brought her to slavery" (Loggias, 101). As a child, Phillis Wheatley was blessed with the gift to recite poetry. Wheatley quickly mastered the English language as well as Latin, and soon began to write verses. During this time, is was uncommon for slaves to be as literate and proficient in the English language or any other language, as Phillis Wheatley was. Wheatley not only knew how to comprehend the language, she also knew how to write the language. This accomplishment made it evident that...

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Uploaded by:   Admin

Date:   11/27/1999

Category:   Biographies

Length:   7 pages (1,652 words)

Views:   1349

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