Poems on various subjects, religous and moral by Phillis Wheatley. Photo Credit: © New York Public Library Digital Collections.

United States – Phillis Wheatley, Poet, and Writer Sailed to England

Poet and writer, Phillis Wheatley, sailed to England in 1773 with her slave master, Nathaniel Wheatley in search of a publisher for her work because none was available in the United States. Her book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral was published in London on September 1, 1773 by Archibald Bell, Bookseller. Wheatley became the first African American and first U.S. slave to publish a book of poems as well as the third American woman to do so.

The book includes the poem “Farewell to America ” which commemorates her journey to London. “It was addressed to her master, Mrs. Susanna Wheatley on May 7, 1773.”

Born in West Africa, she was sold into slavery at the age of seven or eight and transported to North America, where she was bought by the Wheatley family of Boston. They taught her to read and write and subsequently encouraged her poetry when they saw her remarkable talent.



  • Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. “Title page and frontispiece” New York Public Library Digital Collections.