Wheatley, Phillis: Further Reading

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Choucair, Mona M. "Phillis Wheatley." In African American Authors, 1745-1945: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Source-book, edited by Emmanuel S. Nelson, pp. 463-68. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 2000.

Surveys Wheatley's major works and the most important pieces of criticism and biography on Wheatley from the eighteenth through the twentieth century.

Robinson, William H. Phillis Wheatley: A Bio-Bibliography. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1981, 166 p.

Provides a bibliography of criticism and writing on Wheatley, with a short biography.


DuBois, Shirley Graham. The Story of Phillis Wheatley. New York: J. Messner, 1949, 176 p.

Offers a biography of Wheatley written by African-American playwright and wife of W. E. B. DuBois.


Brawley, Benjamin. "Phillis Wheatley." In The Negro in Literature and Art in the United States, 3rd ed., pp. 15-37. New York: AMS Press, 1971.

Critiques Wheatley's poetry, noting the detrimental influence of neoclassical English poets, and asserts her importance to American literary history.

Burke, Helen. "Problematizing American Dissent: The Subject of Phillis Wheatley." In Cohesion and Dissent in America, edited by Carol Colatrella and Joseph Alkana, pp. 193-209. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994.

Challenges the idea that Wheatley's success as a poet reflects her escape from the oppressive situation of slavery.

Collins, Terence. "Phillis Wheatley: The Dark Side of Poetry." PHYLON 36, no. 1 (March 1975): 78-88.

Examines Wheatley's poetry as an expression of self-hatred engendered by the poet's submission to the dominant culture in a slave-holding society.

Erkkila, Betsy. "Phillis Wheatley and the Black American Revolution." In A Mixed Race: Ethnicity in Early America, edited by Frank Shuffleton, pp. 225-40. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Emphasizes the revolutionary power of Wheatley's use of republican and religious figurations of enslavement and redemption.

Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. "Phillis Wheatley and the Nature of the Negro." In Figures in Black: Words, Signs, and the 'Racial' Self, pp. 61-79. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Discusses the early reception of Wheatley's poetry and suggests that criticism of Wheatley set the pattern for centuries of literary criticism on African American authors.

——. "Phillis Wheatley On Trial." New Yorker (20 January 2003): 82-7.

Connects the public trial Wheatley faced to prove she was the author of her poems to the criticisms her poetry endured from twentieth-century black literary critics.

——. The Trials of Phillis Wheatley: America's First Black Poet and Her Encounters with the Founding Fathers. New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2003, 166 p.

Explores Wheatley's role in the development of the black literary tradition.

Grimstead, David. "Anglo-American Racism and Phillis Wheatley's 'Sable Veil,' 'Length'ned Chain,' and 'Knitted Heart.'" In Women in the Age of the American Revolution, edited by Ronald Hoffman and Peter J. Albert, pp. 338-445. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1989.

Disputes characterizations of Wheatley as lacking in self- and race-consciousness.

Hull, Gloria T. "Afro-American Women Poets: A Bio-Critical Survey." In Shakespeare's Sisters: Feminist Essays on Women Poets, edited by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, pp. 165-82. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1979.

Suggests that sexism may have influenced critical assessments of Wheatley's poetry and argues that Wheatley was more self-aware than other critics have allowed.

Johnson, James Weldon. "Preface to Original Edition." In The Book of American Negro Poetry, edited by James Weldon Johnson, pp. 9-48. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1931.

Surveys Wheatley's career and criticizes Wheatley's poetry.

Matson, R. Lynn. "Phillis Wheatley—Soul Sister?" PHYLON 33, no. 3 (fall 1972): 222-30.

Defends Wheatley from charges of abandoning her race and assimilating into white society; notes the importance of Wheatley's discovery of Christianity to understanding her writings.

O'Neale, Sondra. "A Slave's Subtle War: Phillis Wheatley's Use of Biblical Myth and Symbol." Early American Literature 21, no. 2 (fall 1986): 144-65.

Contends that Wheatley used the tropes of Anglo-American culture in a new and subversive way to define an abolitionist moral stance.

Robinson, William H. Phillis Wheatley in the Black American Beginnings. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1975, 95 p.

Attempts a modern reassessment of Wheatley's life and works; examines the themes of race, politics, and religion in her poetry.


Additional coverage of Wheatley's life and career is contained in the following sources published by the Gale Group: African-American Writers, Eds. 1, 2; Black Literature Criticism, Ed. 3; Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography, 1640-1865; Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vols. 31, 50; DISCovering Authors; DISCovering Authors: Canadian Edition; DISCovering Authors Modules: Most-studied Authors, Multicultural Authors, and Poets; DISCovering Authors 3.0; Exploring Poetry; Literature Criticism from 1400-1800, Vols. 3, 50; Literature Resource Center; Poetry Criticism, Vol. 3; Poetry for Students, Vol. 13; Reference Guide to American Literature, Ed. 4; and World Literature Criticism.