Complete Writings

ISBN-10: 014042430X

ISBN-13: 9780140424300

Edition: 2001

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This is the most complete edition of Wheatley ever assembled featuring newly discovered works and supplementary material. It includes a critical introduction giving the context in which these works were written and notes detailing textual variants.
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Book details

List price: $15.00
Copyright year: 2001
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 2/1/2001
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 272
Size: 4.75" wide x 7.50" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.682
Language: English

Seized in Senegal/Gambia, West Africa by slave traders, Phillis Wheatley arrived in Boston when she was about seven years old. Purchased as a domestic in 1761, by Susanna and John Wheatley, Phillis Wheatley was frail and asthmatic. Perhaps because of her delicate constitution, she was excused from the most tiring aspects of her domestic duties. Instead, she was taught to read and write and was instructed in the Bible and the classics. Before she was thirteen, Wheatley was writing poetry that gained quick and widespread acclaim; in 1770 she published her first poem---"An Elegiac Poem on the Death of that Celebrated Divine, and Eminent Servant of Jesus Christ, the Reverend and Learned George Whitefield"---a work that touched on the terrible conditions of her own Atlantic crossing. By 1772 Phillis Wheatley had compiled a collection of verse. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of John and Susanna Wheatley, no publisher within the colonies was willing to print literature written by an African. Nonetheless, the Wheatleys persisted in their search, and through the intervention of Benjamin Franklin and various British sympathizers, including the abolitionist Earl of Dartmouth, they succeeded in finding a publisher for the work. Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral was printed in London in 1772; it is the first collection of poetry written by an African American to be published. Three months before Susanna Wheatley died in 1774 she manumitted (freed) Phillis Wheatley. But with Susanna's death, the Wheatley family disintegrated, and Phillis Wheatley suffered from severe financial difficulties during the Revolutionary War. Despite the voiced misgivings of her friends, Phillis Wheatley married John Peters in 1778. Their marriage was troubled by penury and sickness; in 1784, John Peters was confined to jail because of debt. Wheatley bore three children. Of these, two died in infancy and the third outlived her mother by only a few days. Desperate for assistance, Wheatley worked as a charwoman and maid. Destitute, sick, and alone, Phillis Wheatley died in 1784; she was barely thirty. Wheatley wrote approximately 145 poems, including the 64-line work "Liberty and Peace," published as a pamphlet under the name of Phillis Peters. Criticized during the early part of this century for not more openly addressing the theme of slavery, Wheatley's work combines Christian imagery and classical typology with an undeniably elegiac tone. Recent scholarship suggests that her Biblical allusions and metaphors demonstrate an antipathy to slavery and that her elegant and educated verse served to undermine colonial institutions of power.

Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797) was a former slave who became an outspoken opponent of the slave trade. Vincent Carretta is professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the editor of the Penguin Classics editions of the "Complete Writings of Phillis Wheatley," "Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, an African," and "Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery and Other Writings by Ottobah Cugoano,"

Suggestions for Further Reading
A Note on Money
Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral
Copy of a Letter sent by the Author's Master to the Publisher
To the Publick
To Maecenas
On Virtue
To the University of Cambridge, in New England
To the King's Most Excellent Majesty. 1768
On being brought from Africa to America
On the Death of the Rev. Dr. Sewell, 1769
On the Death of the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield. 1770
On the Death of a young Lady of Five Years of Age
On the Death of a young Gentleman
To a Lady on the Death of her Husband
Goliath of Gath
Thoughts on the Works of Providence
To a Lady on the Death of Three Relations
To a Clergyman on the Death of his Lady
An Hymn to the Morning
An Hymn to the Evening
Isaiah lxiii. 1-8
On Recollection
On Imagination
A Funeral Poem on the Death of C. E. an Infant of Twelve Months
To Captain H. - D., of the 65th Regiment
To the Right Honourable William, Earl of Dartmouth, His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for North-America, andc
Ode to Neptune. On Mrs. W. - 's Voyage to England
To a Lady on her coming to North-America with her Son, for the Recovery of her Health
To a Lady on her remarkable Preservation in an Hurricane in North-Carolina
To a Lady and her Children, on the Death of her Son and their Brother
To a Gentleman and Lady on the Death of the Lady's Brother and Sister, and a Child of the Name Avis, aged one Year
On the Death of Dr. Samuel Marshall. 1771
To a Gentleman on his Voyage to Great Britain for the Recovery of his Health
To the Rev. Dr. Thomas Amory on reading his Sermons on Daily Devotion, in which that Duty is recommended and assisted
On the Death of J. C. an Infant
An Hymn to Humanity. To S. P. G. Esq
To the Honourable T. H. Esq; on the Death his Daughter
Niobe in Distress for her children slain by Apollo, from Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book VI. and from a view of the Painting of Mr. Richard Wilson
To S. M. a young African Painter, on seeing his Works
To His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor, on the Death of his Lady. March 24, 1773
A Farewel to America, To Mrs. S. W.
A Rebus, by I. B.
An Answer to the Rebus, by the Author of these Poems
Extant Poems Not Published in Poems on Various Subjects
An Address to the Atheist
An Address to the Deist - 1767 -
On Messrs Hussey and Coffin
To the Hon.bale Commodore Hood on his Pardoning a Deserter
On Friendship
On the Death of Mr. Snider Murder'd by Richardson
An Elegy, To Miss, Mary Moorhead, on the Death of her Father, The Rev. Mr. John Moorhead
[To a Gentleman of the Navy.]
The Answer [By the Gentleman of the Navy]
Philis's [sic] Reply to the Answer in our last by the Gentleman in the Navy
To His Excellency General Washington
On the Capture of General Lee
On the Death of General Wooster
To Mr. and Mrs. - , on the Death of their Infant Son
An Elegy Sacred to the Memory of the Rev'd Samuel Cooper, D.D.
An Elegy, Sacred to the Memory of that Great Divine, the Reverend and Learned Dr. Samuel Cooper
Liberty and Peace, A Poem
An Elegy on Leaving -
Variants of Poems Published in Poems on Various Subjects
To the University of Cambridge, wrote in 1767
To The King's Most Excellent Majesty on his Repealing the American Stamp Act
On the Decease of the Revd Doctr Sewall [variant 1]
On the Decease of the rev'd Dr. Sewell [variant 2]
On the Death of the Rev'd Dr. Sewall, 1769 [variant 3]
An Elegiac Poem, On the Death of that celebrated Divine, and eminent Servant of Jesus Christ, the late Reverend, and pious George Whitefield, Chaplain to the Right Honourable the Countess of Huntingdon, and c andc. [variant 1]
An Ode of Verses On the much-lamented Death of the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield, Late Chaplain to the Countess of Huntingdon [variant 2]
To Mrs. Leonard, on the Death of her Husband
On the Death of Dr. Samuel Marshall [variant 1]
On the Death of Doctor Samuel Marshall [variant 2]
Recollection. To Miss A - M -
To the Rev. Mr. Pitkin, on the Death of his Lady
A Poem on the Death of Charles Eliot, Aged 12 Months [variant 1]
A Poem the death of Charles Eliot aged 12 months [variant 2]
To the Right Honl. William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth [variant 1]
To the Right Honl William Legge, Earl of Dartmouth [variant 2]
To the Hon'ble Thomas Hubbard, Esq; On the Death of Mrs. Thankull Leonard
To the Empire of America, Beneath the Western Hemisphere. Farewell to America. To Mrs. S. W. [variant 1]
Farewell to America [variant 2]
To the Countess of Huntingdon (October 25, 1770)
To Abigail May? (November or December 1771)
To John Thornton (April 21, 1772)
To Arbour Tanner (May 19, 1772)
To Arbour Tanner (July 19, 1772)
To the Earl of Dartmouth (October 10, 1772)
To the Countess of Huntingdon (June 27 1773)
To the Countess of Huntingdon (July 17, 1773)
To David Worcester (October 18, 1773)
To Obour Tanner (October 30, 1773)
To John Thornton (December 1, 1773)
To the Reverend Samuel Hopkings (February 9, 1774)
To Samson Occom (February 11, 1774)
To Obour Tanner (March 21, 1774)
To John Thornton (March 29, 1774)
To Obour Tanner (May 6, 1774)
To the Reverend Samuel Hopkins (May 6, 1774)
To John Thornton (October 30, 1774)
To George Washington (October 26, 1775)
To Obour Tanner (May 29, 1778)
To Mary Wooster (July 15, 1778)
To Obour Tanner (May 10, 1779)
Variant Letters
To the Countess of Huntingdon (October 25, 1770)
To the Earl of Dartmouth (June 3, 1773)
Proposals for Volumes of Poetry
Proposal for Printing by Subscription (February 29, 1772)
Proposals (April 16, 1773)
Proposals (October 30, 1779)
Wheatley's Final Proposal (September 1784)
Possible Wheatley variant of "Hymn to Humanity"; Possible new Phillis Wheatley poem, "The Voice of Freedom"
Lucy Terry Prince
Bars Fight
Jupiter Hammon
An Evening Thought. Slvation by Christ, with Penetential Cries
An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatly [sic]
"A Poem for Children with Thoughts on Death"
A Dialogue Entitledd the Kind Master and Dutiful Servant
Francis Williams
An Ode
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