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Catalog Data

Unidentified Artist  Search this
A. Bell Publisher  Search this
Phillis Wheatley, c. 1753 - 5 Dec 1784  Search this
Engraving on paper
Image: 12.8 x 10cm (5 1/16 x 3 15/16")
Sheet: 14.9 x 10.2cm (5 7/8 x 4")
Mat: 45.7 x 35.6cm (18 x 14")
Exhibition Label:
Born 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. This was no small feat, considering that she came to America as a slave. In 1761 the Wheatley family in Boston purchased her. A small child then, she was called Phillis after the name of the ship that transported her from Africa. Unlike most slaves, Wheatley had an opportunity for an education, and soon learned to read and began to write poetry. An elegy written for the celebrated evangelical minister George Whitefield caught audiences' attention in Boston and London, and prompted an English publisher to print her collection, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773). This work drew the praise of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Voltaire, and contributed to her later manumission.
Home Furnishings\Furniture\Seating\Chair  Search this
Printed Material\Book  Search this
Home Furnishings\Furniture\Table  Search this
Printed Material\Papers  Search this
Equipment\Drafting & Writing Implements\Writing implement\Pen\Quill  Search this
Equipment\Drafting & Writing Implements\Inkstand  Search this
Phillis Wheatley: Female  Search this
Phillis Wheatley: Literature\Writer\Poet  Search this
Phillis Wheatley: Society and Social Change\Enslaved person  Search this
Portrait  Search this
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Object number:
Restrictions & Rights:
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in:
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Data Source:
National Portrait Gallery