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Defending Phillis Wheatley Peters


Phillis Wheatley Peters’ volume of poetry was not published until she was twenty years old, when John Wheatley brought her to London for her health and to find a patron for her work. He met with prominent members of society. Enslaved or formerly enslaved Black writers needed verification by white supporters, and the publication of John Wheatley’s two defenses of Phillis Wheatley in this 1773 volume provided proof for naysayers of the legitimacy of her poems and solicited the financial support of abolitionists in support of her freedom. These defenses provide a different glimpse of the revolutionary period, where her poems sit at the heart of demands for freedom and liberty.