Critical Essays On Phillis Wheatley

Critical Essays On Phillis Wheatley-83
They called her Phillis, after the name of the slave ship that brought her from Africa.

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The cause of her death is unknown, but it may have been related to the “Asthmatic complaint” she suffered from in previous winters.

The first American edition of her was not published until 1786, in Philadelphia.

The African-American poet Phillis Wheatley has achieved iconic status in American culture.

A 174-word letter from her to a fellow servant of African descent in 1776 sold at an auction in 2005 for $253,000—well over double what it had been expected to fetch, and the highest price ever paid for a letter by a woman of African descent.

For example, in “To the University of Cambridge, in New-England,” first composed when she was about fifteen years old, Wheatley speaks as a teacher to students, or a minister to his flock, in addressing the young men of what was to become Harvard University, many of whom were being trained there to become ministers themselves.

Several of Wheatley’s poems demonstrate a nuanced treatment of slavery unrecognized by some of her critics.

The assertiveness that Phillis probably displayed in her dealings with Nathaniel Wheatley was anticipated more subtly in her to proclaim her African heritage.

Her opening poem, “To Maecenas,” thanks her unnamed patron, loosely imitating Classical models such as Virgil and Horace’s poems dedicated to Maecenas, the Roman politician and patron of the arts.

Peters, who at various times in his life advertised himself as a lawyer, physician, and gentleman, was repeatedly jailed for debt.

He was probably in prison when Phillis died on 5 December 1784, when she was about thirty-one years old.


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