Daily Archives for: March 13th, 2018

Phillis Wheatley, First African-American Poet

Phillis Wheatley (ca 1753 – December 5, 1784), born in Senegal/Gambia, Africa, was the 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, where she arrived on July 11, 1761. She arrived on a schooner, The Phillis, undoubtedly the source of her name. Later, she was described as “a slender, frail female child, supposed to have been about seven years old at the time, from the circumstances of shedding her front teeth.”

John Wheatley, a prosperous tailor and merchant of Boston bought the little girl from the slave market to be 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→

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Mary McCarthy, Author of The Group

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→

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Dorothy West, author of The Living is Easy & The Wedding

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→

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