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UW-Madison, Phillis in on a famous poet

Learn more about the life and work of Phillis Wheatley at UW-Madison’s “250 Years of Phillis Wheatley” exhibit.


Phillis Wheatley’s “Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral” was the first published book of poetry written by an African-American. | Photo via Wikimedia Commons

250 years ago, a young woman living in Boston wrote a book of poetry. Today, UW-Madison is celebrating her life and work.

Phillis Wheatley became the first African American author of a published book of poetry in 1773 with the publication of “Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.” She was born in West Africa in 1753 before being brought to the US and enslaved by Bostonite John Wheatley.

Learn more about Wheatley at UW-Madison’s “250 Years of Phillis Wheatley” exhibit in the Memorial Library.

The exhibit is curated by professors Brigitte Fielder and Jonathan Senchyne, with the Center for the History of Print and Design Culture and the Department of Special Collections. Visitors can see a first edition of the book, as well as manuscripts and documents highlighting Wheatley’s legacy.

The exhibit runs through Dec. 22 in the library’s Special Collections gallery space. Visitors must have a valid ID card or a visitor pass obtained at the Welcome Desk.