Phyllis Wheatley was a talented poet and became the first black woman in Britain to have a book published. Phyllis Wheatley had been born in Africa but kidnapped and taken to the USA at just eight years old. In the USA she became well known as a poet and she visited England in 1772. Her book of poems was published in London in 1773. Her poems described the shock of the experience of slavery and, like Equiano and Cugoano, she regularly spoke out against slavery at public meetings. In 1789 one of her poems was published by a London newspaper.
I, young in life, by seeming cruel fate,
Was snach'd from AFRIC's fancy'd happy seat;
What pangs excruciating must molest,
What sorrows labour in my parents' breast?
Steel'd was that soul and by no mis'ry mov'd
That from a father seiz'd his babe belove'd;
Such-such my case; and can I then but pray
Others may never feel tyrannic sway?
Source: Phillis Wheatley, as illustrated by Scipio Moorhead in the Frontispiece to her book 'Poems on Various Subjects'.
10th Nov 2007 by Diane Earl
Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Key Stage 4+