Colour photocopy (undated) of artwork by Scipio Moorhead portraying Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) for her book 'Poems on Various Subjects'.
Phillis Wheatley was born in Senegambia and was taken aged seven aboard a ship, The Phillis, to the USA and sold to the Wheatley's of Boston. At 20, Phillis Wheatley became the second African poet to publish a book, and the first published African woman in Britain and America. Having travelled to England in 1773 with her enslaver’s son, she is said to have become ‘the most famous African woman on Earth’. There, aristocratic patrons supported the publication of her work, and she had an audience with the Lord Mayor of London. The quality of her writing – seen as evidence that an enslaved woman was capable of intellectual originality –supported the anti-slavery movement.
BCA Catalogue Reference: PHOTOS/25