Phillis Wheatley (ca 1753 – December 5, 1784) was born in Senegal / Gambia, Africa. She was America’s first African-American poet and one of the first women to be published in colonial America. She was also the first slave in the U.S. to have a book of poetry published.
She was kidnapped as part of the slave trade as a young child and brought to North America in 1761. John Wheatley of Boston bought her from the slave market as a personal servant to his wife, Susanna. As was customary at the time, she was given the surname of the family to whom she was in bondage. Read More→
Mary McCarthy (June 21, 1912 – October 25, 1989) was an American novelist, political activist, and critic. Born in Seattle, Washington, she endured a difficult childhood but overcame it to become a woman of strength and determination.
She began her writing career as a critic and gained admiration for her honest observations on culture and politics. In 1942 she published her first novel, The Company She Keeps, about a smart young woman going to college and breaking into New York City social circles.
The Group (1954) was arguably her most popular novel — it sat on the New York Times bestseller list for two years and was made into a popular film. McCarthy’s novels and stories are part autobiography and part fiction, as she draws on her own experiences, traumas, and successes. That, along with her writing style, made her a respected talent in the writing community. Read More→
Dorothy West (June 2, 1907 – August 16, 1998) was an American author and editor associated with the Harlem Renaissance. Born in Boston, she started writing as a child and began receiving accolades and awards while still in her teens.
Her writing is admired for its nuanced views of middle and upper middle-class African-American communities and how it comments on gender, class, and social structure through storytelling. Read More→