With Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773), Phillis Wheatley became the first English-speaking person of African descent to publish a book and only the second woman -- of any race or background -- to do so in America. Written in Boston while she was just a teenager, and still a slave, Wheatley's work was an international sensation. In Phillis Wheatley, Vincent Carretta offers the first full-length biography of a figure whose origins and later life have remained shadowy despite her iconic status.
A scholar with extensive knowledge of transatlantic literature and history, Carretta uncovers new details about Wheatley's origins, her upbringing, and how she gained freedom. Assessing Wheatley's entire body of work, he discusses the likely role she played in the production, marketing, and distribution of her writing. She developed a remarkable network that transcended racial, class, political, religious, and geographical boundaries.
Vincent Carretta is a professor of English at the University of Maryland. His most recent books are Equiano, the African: Biography of a Self-Made Man, winner of the Annibel Jenkins Prize, and The Life and Letters of Philip Quaque, the First African Anglican Missionary, coedited with Ty M. Reese.
Recorded On: Sunday, February 26, 2012