My Name Is Phillis Wheatley

Afua Cooper

This is the remarkable story of Phillis Wheatley, who is born into an African family of griots, or storytellers, but captured by slave raiders and forced aboard a slave ship, where appalling conditions spell death for many of her companions. Numerous sharks follow the ship, feeding on the corpses of slaves thrown overboard.

Weakened by the voyage and near death in a Boston slave market, Wheatley is bought by a kind family who nurses her back to health and teaches her to read and write. Soon her mistress recognizes that the girl is a quick learner and talented. At the age of 12, a torrent of poetry begins to flow out of Wheatley. Proud of her achievements, her mistress organizes readings in Boston's finest parlors and drawing rooms, and Wheatley's fame spreads. But even when many in Boston are calling her a prodigy and a genius, some remain unsure that a slave should be able to write, much less write poetry. When Phillis travels to London she is a media sensation, feted by the cream of English society. A book of her poems is published, and she finally gains her freedom.

This amazing story, wide in scope, is based on fact and told convincingly from young Wheatley's point of view.

978-1-5253-1086-7 | Apr 1, 2009
List Price: USD $0, CAD $0
Grades: 5 To 9 / Ages: 10 to 14
978-1-5253-0828-4 | Jan 6, 2021
List Price: USD $7.99, CAD $7.99

Educational Resources


Awards & Reviews

“... Phillis's narrative is truly a story of slavery and freedom.”
— Kirkus Reviews, September 2009
“Her poetry is woven into the biographical details, and the haunting personal story opens up the history.”
— Booklist, September 2009
“The writing is generally strong and engaging, drawing readers immediately into Wheatley's agonies ...”
— School Library Journal, October 2009
2012 - Beacon of Freedom Award, Winner
2010 - Applied Arts Photography & Illustration Award, Applied Arts, Winner
2010 - Best Books for Kids & Teens, Canadian Children's Book Centre, Winner

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