The Trials of Phillis Wheatley: America's First Black Poet and Her Encounters with the Founding Fathers

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9780465018505: The Trials of Phillis Wheatley: America's First Black Poet and Her Encounters with the Founding Fathers

In 1773, the slave Phillis Wheatley literally wrote her way to freedom. The first person of African descent to publish a book of poems in English, she was emancipated by her owners in recognition of her literary achievement. For a time, Wheatley was the most famous black woman in the West. But Thomas Jefferson, unlike his contemporaries Ben Franklin and George Washington, refused to acknowledge her gifts as a writer—a repudiation that eventually inspired generations of black writers to build an extraordinary body of literature in their efforts to prove him wrong.

In The Trials of Phillis Wheatley, Henry Louis Gates Jr. explores the pivotal roles that Wheatley and Jefferson played in shaping the black literary tradition. Writing with all the lyricism and critical skill that place him at the forefront of American letters, Gates brings to life the characters, debates, and controversy that surrounded Wheatley in her day and ours.

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About the Author:

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University. His books include Colored People, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man, and In Search of Our Roots. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Gates brings scholarly insight and a love of black literature to this examination of how Wheatley, the first published African American poet, has survived the judgment of past and contemporary critics. After her poems appeared in 1773, distinguished American citizens (mostly white male slaveholders) set out to determine if Wheatley, or for that matter any black person, was capable of the higher thoughts and emotions required to create poetry. Underlying the debate was the humanity of blacks, the justification for their enslavement, and the moral culpability of the slaveholders. While Benjamin Franklin and George Washington accepted Wheatley's talent, Thomas Jefferson remained skeptical, shifting the focus from the authenticity of her authorship to the quality of her work. Generations later, black nationalists would also focus on the ideological quality of Wheatley's work, vilifying her as an apologist for slavery. But in this slim, lively volume, Gates extols Wheatley's enduring literary significance and Jefferson's contribution to spurring a tradition of black literature that was first aimed at proving equality and came to signify a black aesthetic. Vanessa Bush
Copyright American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Book Description The Perseus Books Group, United States, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 188 x 127 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In 1773, the slave Phillis Wheatley literally wrote her way to freedom. The first person of African descent to publish a book of poems in English, she was emancipated by her owners in recognition of her literary achievement. For a time, Wheatley was the most famous black woman in the West. But Thomas Jefferson, unlike his contemporaries Ben Franklin and George Washington, refused to acknowledge her gifts as a writer,a repudiation that eventually inspired generations of black writers to build an extraordinary body of literature in their efforts to prove him wrong. In The Trials of Phillis Wheatley , Henry Louis Gates Jr. explores the pivotal roles that Wheatley and Jefferson played in shaping the black literary tradition. Writing with all the lyricism and critical skill that place him at the forefront of American letters, Gates brings to life the characters, debates, and controversy that surrounded Wheatley in her day and ours. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780465018505

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Book Description The Perseus Books Group, United States, 2010. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 188 x 127 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In 1773, the slave Phillis Wheatley literally wrote her way to freedom. The first person of African descent to publish a book of poems in English, she was emancipated by her owners in recognition of her literary achievement. For a time, Wheatley was the most famous black woman in the West. But Thomas Jefferson, unlike his contemporaries Ben Franklin and George Washington, refused to acknowledge her gifts as a writer--a repudiation that eventually inspired generations of black writers to build an extraordinary body of literature in their efforts to prove him wrong. In The Trials of Phillis Wheatley, Henry Louis Gates Jr. explores the pivotal roles that Wheatley and Jefferson played in shaping the black literary tradition. Writing with all the lyricism and critical skill that place him at the forefront of American letters, Gates brings to life the characters, debates, and controversy that surrounded Wheatley in her day and ours. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780465018505

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