No one could have imagined that the frail, seven-year-old slave girl who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1761 would become the first published African American, achieving fame for her poetry in both America and England. Upon her arrival, Phillis quickly learned to read the Bible and other classic literature, publishing her first poem in 1767 when she was thirteen and a book of poetry in 1773. Her poetry encouraged freedom for all people, and she proved to a doubting generation that intelligence and creativity are not limited to a particular race.

Through Phillis’s story, young readers will learn the importance of trusting God’s plan while standing up for justice and the good of other human beings.


Simonetta Carr has written an accessible and balanced book on an important figure in African American and American Christian history. Her sensitive treatment of the life and work of Phillis Wheatley is a fine introduction to a new generation of readers. –Eric M. Washington, Associate Professor of History and Director of African and African Diaspora Studies, Calvin University

Phillis Wheatley is the quintessential persona non-grata of African American history. The powers that be, in her day could not believe the beautiful, eloquent poems ascribed to her could emanate from someone so young, so female and so black. Later generations of black activists and intellectuals failed to appreciate her theological underpinnings that included an understanding of God’s sovereignty and divine providence, even in relation to the atrocious and sinful institution of slavery. I am eternally grateful to Simonetta Carr for bringing the complex story of this prodigious and profound poet to the consciousness of a new generation of young readers. –Ken Jones, pastor of Glendale Missionary Baptist Church, Miami, Florida and co-host of ‘The White Horse Inn’