Women's History Month Book Review

wheatley Vincent Carretta's biography of Phillis Wheatly, Phillis Wheatley: Biography of a Genius in Bondage, published in 2011, was the first full length biography of Wheatley. In it, he presents new information about her crossing the Atlantic on the slave ship, The Phillis, 1761. We learn of the interesting circumstances that resulted in her surviving that crossing from Senegambia to Boston. We learn of her home-schooling education  and how she became a poet despite initially not finding a publisher in America and more amazingly despite still being a slave and a teenager. Wheatly wrote her first poem at age eleven. She could read Greek and Latin by age twelve. We learn of how Wheatley got to England, where she was embraced and published and emancipated. We learn that in 1773, she was finally published in America- the first person of African descent in America to publish a book. We learn more of Wheatley's husband John Peters. their relationship, and what happened to him after her death. Carretta includes poems of Wheatley's in this biography, including the earlist poem attributed to her and other unpublished poems of hers. We learn of the many years she stayed in Britain with African-British identity until the last year of her life when she chose to become African-American. We also learn more of how a woman so talented and successful died in obscurity. 

Carretta has written a very readable biography. The language he uses to describe Phillis Wheatley's circumstances draws the reader into the story of her life. He has made reading history a pleasure. 

Posted by FionaL on March 18, 2021