33. Young, Gifted, and Black: Phillis Wheatley

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Phillis Wheatley astonishes colonial Americans with her exquisite and precocious poetry and reflects on the liberating power of the imagination.



Further Reading

• J.C. Shields (ed.), The Collected Works of Phillis Wheatley (Oxford: 1988).


• V. Carretta, Phillis Wheatley: Biography of a Genius in Bondage (Athens, GA: 2011).

• M.A. Richmond, Bid the Vassal Soar: Interpretative Essays on the Life and Poetry of Phillis Wheatley (ca. 1753 - 1784) and George Moses Horton (ca. 1797 - 1883) (Washington DC: 1974).

• W.H. Robinson, Critical Essays on Phillis Wheatley (Boston: 1982).

• J.C. Shields, Phillis Wheatley’s Poetics of Liberation: Backgrounds and Contexts (Knoxville: 2008).

• J.C. Shields (ed.), New Essays on Phillis Wheatley (Knoxville: 2011).

• D. Waldstreicher, The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley: a Poet’s Journeys Through American Slavery and Independence (New York: 2023).


Alexander Johnson on 10 April 2020


Speaking of mispelling her name, here you list her as Phillis, in the timeline you list her as Phyllis.  Are they both correct?

In reply to by Alexander Johnson

Peter Adamson on 11 April 2020


Oh right, thanks - it should be Phillis. I will fix this on the timeline, thanks for catching it!

S.G. on 30 June 2020


I have read that George Whitefield's name should be pronounced "Witfield", with a short first i. (See the Wikipedia article).
By the way, thank you for this wonderful series! I am also looking forward to the episodes on white abolitionists (and slavery advocates) in the main series.

In reply to by S.G.

Peter Adamson on 30 June 2020


Oh thanks, I did not realize that but it makes sense. With so many difficult pronunciations in the India and Africana series, you'd think I could've gotten this one right!

Glad you like the series.

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