Book (open to 90%): 18.4 × 19.7 cm (7 1/4 × 7 3/4")
Born The Gambia, Africa
Phillis Wheatley was the first African American to publish a book and the first American woman to earn a living from her writing, no small feat considering that she came to the colonies as a slave. Although most slaves had no opportunity for an education, within two years of Wheatley's purchase in 1761, she had learned to read and begun to write poetry. Her book Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773), published in London, drew the praise of Washington, Franklin, and Voltaire and helped Wheatley gain her freedom. The frontispiece engraving emphasized Wheatley’s demure appearance and creative intelligence.