Skip to contentSkip to Main Site NavigationSkip to Site Left NavigationSkip to Site Utility NavigationSkip to Site SearchSkip to FooterDownload Adobe Reader
English 231 Impact Banner
Notes and Exercises
Home » People » Karl Sherlock » English 231 Home » Notes and Exercises » Notes: Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley stamp
Phillis Wheatley
1752-1784, Rep.
of Senegal stamp:
iss. 1971, unknown artist


Related Resources
Chart: Poetry and Meter
Exercises and Study Questions: Olaudee, Olaudah


1752 Phillis Wheatley is born

Jul. 11, 1761 shipped on the Phillis to Boston from West Africa (possibly the Gambia river region)

1759-60 Susanna Wheatley, a Christian and wife of merchant John Wheatley, purchases her.

1765 begins to write; taught by Susanna's daughter, Mary

1767 publishes first poem in a newspaper (14 years old)

1772 sends a volume of poems to a publisher, after which she is personally examined by a printer's 18-man jury to attest to her authorship: "that the poems were 'written by PHILLIS, a young Negro Girl, who was but a few Years since, brought an uncultivated Barbarian from Africa, and has ever since been, and now is, under the Disadvantage of serving as a Slave in a Family in this Town' ("To the PUBLICK").

Jun. 17, 1772 Mary Wheatley's twin brother, Nathaniel, arrives to England with Phillis in the family-owned ship, London Packet.

Sep. 13, 1772 Phillis returns to Boston to be with the dying Susanna Wheatley

Sep. 28, 1772 Wheatley's book is published, with the aid of the countess of Huntington, to whom Phillis dedicated it.

Oct. 1772 John Wheatley sets Phillis free.

Apr. 1, 1778 she marries John Peters and they has three children and settle in Wilmington, Mass.

1779 Wheatley tries unsuccessfully to have a second volume of poems published

Dec. 5, 1784 31 years old, dies in poverty, her children predeceasing her during the previous six years. Her funeral was in Boston.

1786 first US publication of her Poems, in Philadelphia.

Last Updated: 06/28/2015


Karl J Sherlock
Associate Professor, English
Phone: 619-644-7871

  • Grossmont
  • Cuyamaca
A Member of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District