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Phillis Wheatley, Complete Writings Paperback – February 1, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

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"What a marvelous edition of Phillis Wheatley's COMPLETE WRITINGS Vincent Carretta has produced for Penguin Classics. Here are all her poems including extant verse not included in her first volume as well as variants of others. Here are also her letters and the important proposals for her volumes of poetry. Additionally, Carretta has added work by her black contemporaries Lucy Terry Prince, Jupiter Hammon, and Francis Williams to help readers contextualize black literary activity in the late eighteenth century. Carretta has also written an illuminating introduction and included suggestions for further read and notes. In short, this is a fantastic edition for the specialist, the student, and the informed general reader. It will be widely used." --Kathryn Zabelle Derounian-Stodola, Univ of Arkansas at Little Rock

"Vincent Carretta's edition of the works of Phillis Wheatley is the definitive collection of her work. Expertly edited, it is a masterpiece of textual scholarship. Every scholar and student seeking to understand Wheatley's life and work will want to obtain this book." --Henry Louis Gates

About the Author

Phillis Wheatley (1753?-1784) was born in western Africa, most likely in present-day Gambia or Ghana. Having failed to find an American publisher for a second volume of her works, Wheatley died in Boston largely forgotten and impoverished.

Vincent Carretta is professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the editor of the Penguin Classics editions of the Complete Writings of Phillis Wheatley, Letters of the Late Ignatius Sancho, an African, and Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery and Other Writings by Ottobah Cugoano.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (February 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014042430X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140424300
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on September 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
"Complete Writings" brings together a rich collection of the work of Phillis Wheatley (c. 1753-1784). The book has been edited by Vincent Carretta, who also provides an introduction and notes. Wheatley, a Black African-born woman, was taken from her homeland as a child and sold into slavery in the United States. Her owners provided her with an excellent education, and she became a poet: indeed, a foremother of African-American poetry.
This volume contains Wheatley's poems, including the contents of her historic collection "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral" (1773).The book also contains more than 20 of her letters, thus allowing readers to appreciate her prose style. As appendixes, the book also contains the writings of three other pioneering New World poets of African heritage: Lucy Terry Prince (c. 1730-1821), Jupiter Hammon (1711-c. 1806), and Francis Williams (c. 1700-c. 1770). Seeing the works of these Black poets helps one to read Wheatley's work in a larger context.
Yes, one could say that some of Wheatley's work is derivative and repetitive. But the best of her poetry is truly extraordinary: technically impressive, moving, and thought-provoking. Much of her work is animated by her fervent evangelical Christian beliefs. But particularly significant are those poems that articulate an African or African-American consciousness. The most noteworthy of her poems invite careful re-reading. And the collection of her letters creates a fascinating portrait of a young African-American woman striving to create a career for herself as a literary artist in the 18th century. This book is essential for those with a serious interest in U.S. history and literature, as well as for those with an interest in African Diaspora studies.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David C. Roller on May 9, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
She is humble, and intelligent, and loves the Lord. I adore her poetry and writings. She makes me want to be thankful for my lot in life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Wheatley Atty on July 20, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Trial of Phillis WheatleyIf you want to learn about Phillis Wheatley and her poetry, this book is a wonderful place to start. I referred to it often as a research source as I wrote my produced play "The Trial of Phillis Wheatley." The extremely well researched book goes beyond the poetry, and provides prose, as in letters that Phillis wrote, and also an historical insight on her life in Boston as a household slave of the Wheatley family there. What I found particularly of interest was the author's portrayal of Susannah Wheatley, devout Christian member of the Old South Church and mistress of the Wheatley household who recruited her teen-age twins, Mary and Nathaniel, to direct their energies to help tutor Phillis. This treatment led me to the conclusion that Susannah Wheatley must have become America's first "stage mother" in her support of Phillis and her poetry.
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Talk about an educated woman! Americans could only hope for such an education that this woman got at the home of her master. Slavery as awful as it was anywhere in history, (and even worse in present day!) there are those remarkable stories where some fared well, and were able to go farther than they ever would have in their native country. She was quite an accomplished young lady who got to see the world from a privileged position. Her writings are 1700's university level. Inspiring! In first person, original writings.
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Format: Paperback
Phillis Wheatley wrote exquisit poetry. I have read one biography of hers. It is my understanding that she was taken as a young child from Africa to America. She then lived in New England and was not a free person. English must have been her second language and, as a person in servitude, could not have had a first class education. Nonetheless she wrote poetry that was incredible. It seems impossible to me. It makes me wonder how much creative genius has gone unrecognized and wasted...
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