The Life of Phillis Wheatley Peters

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The life of poet and author Phillis Wheatley Peters is a fascinating topic. Learn about the poet's marriage, her poetry, and her letters to George Washington. You might be surprised to learn that she was African-American. And you may not even know that she was born in the South. Nevertheless, Wheatley's life and work have a lasting impact on American literature. Let's take a look at a few of Wheatley's most famous works.

Phillis Wheatley's life

You may not be aware of the remarkable life of a famous black poet, Phillis Wheatley. Wheatley was born as a slave in Africa and emigrated to the Americas as a child. Although she was not taught to speak English, she was treated like a member of the Wheatley family. Her new masters encouraged her to write poetry, and she even published some of her poems in newspapers.

The young woman's talent for writing was nurtured at an early age by her mother, Susannah Wheatley. She devoured mythology, poetry, and the Latin classics, including the poetry of Ovid. Her ability to translate poetry into English was so impressive that it astonished Boston's scholarly elite. The poet also enjoyed writing spiritual poems. Phillis Wheatley's poetry reflected her deep religious beliefs. She belonged to the Congregationalist church in Boston, and her poems were praised for their rhyming lines and emotion.

Her poetry

Her poetry by Phillis Wheatley was first published in 1817 and was an instant success, gaining a large following and receiving several awards. Wheatley's life and poetry reflected her faith. She was a slave girl brought to Boston in 1761. When her owner, John Wheatley, saw her natural talent, he bought her as a personal servant for his wife Susanna. She learned to read and write within two years and eventually went on to learn Latin and Greek. Later, Phillis Wheatley translated Ovid, causing a stir among Boston scholars.

Several scholars have argued that Wheatley had no real connection to the white society that she lived in. Eleanor Smith, a professor of African-American Studies at the University of Cincinnati, has claimed that Wheatley had an erroneous notion of her true relationship to white society. According to Smith, Wheatley accepted a false sense of security from white society, which she believes contributed to her poetry's negative qualities.

Her marriage

Her marriage to Phillis Peters in 1778 is not entirely clear. According to the records, Peters was a free Black man, and their relationship began with a proposal of marriage. John Peters, who owned a Boston grocery, was the man's father, but in the correspondence and proposals to Phillis, she identifies herself as the widow of a black merchant named John. After their marriage, the couple moved to Wilmington, Massachusetts, to avoid the Revolutionary War. But soon after their marriage, they returned to Boston and began to suffer from poverty.

In 1773, Wheatley's marriage to John Peters brought her into fame and fortune, but it was a sad one. Her marriage to Peters was not a happy one, but it was the beginning of her literary career. Phillis's literary work made her a beloved figure among Black readers. She received funding from Selina Hastings, a friend of Susanna Wheatley, and she wrote a book about her marriage to Phillis. "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral," was published in late 1773 in London.

Her letters to George Washington

Her letters to George Washington are one of the few records of Martha Washington's relationship with her husband, the future president of the United States. Although the letter was written in 1775, the content remains as passionate today as it was then. Martha wrote this letter to express her feelings for her husband, "My love."

Although Martha destroyed the majority of her husband's letters, some have been preserved. These letters include a letter George wrote to Martha Washington before leaving Philadelphia for an American camp in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The letter reveals a private side of George Washington that historians have been unable to uncover. Martha Washington destroyed all her correspondence with her husband after his death, and it's not clear if she intended to do so or not. Nevertheless, her granddaughter, Martha Parke Custis Peter, was able to find the letter.

Her struggle to be an independent African woman

South African society is conventionally patriarchal, and women were expected to be subordinate to men in their daily lives. The role of women was domestic and economic; they were not expected to work or engage in political or economic activity. In the early 1950s, women began to take leadership roles in a number of organizations, and many took part in the ANC's campaigns for national equality. Today, women are playing major roles in many African liberation movements, and the African Union has declared 2010 as the Decade of Women.

Women's roles in South African history have become more widely acknowledged in recent years, with a focus on political organization and the struggle for equal rights. Before this, the role of women in South African history was virtually ignored. Older books focused on the white male population, white interactions with other races, and military exploits of men. But today, women have become active participants in politics and society, and this reflects a new understanding of the past.

July 06, 2022




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