Three Women Writers: A Study in Virtue and Christianity of the 18th and 19th centuries

Powerful Essays
Three Women Writers: A Study in Virtue and Christianity of the 18th and 19th centuries

The popularity of Toni Morrison's Beloved has recently awakened a mainstream interest in African-American literature. Writers, such as Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes, have also facilitated the infiltration of African American voices into popular culture. This website is devoted to three women who, like Morrison and Angelou, have aided in the formation and development of the African American literary tradition, but often remain unremembered in today's society.

Phillis Wheatley, Harriet Jacobs, and Harriet Wilson have all made valuable contributions in the forms of poetry, narrative, and fiction to the early stages of a growing literary tradition. Although these women portrayed different viewpoints, utilized different writing styles, and wrote within different contexts many comparisons can be made amongst their work. Specifically this site focuses on the common themes of virtue and Christianity represented in the authors' work and in their lives.


Phillis Wheatley

Wheatley was born in Africa in the early 1750's and was brought to Boston in 1761 as a slave. The Wheatley family, who was a prominent family in the Boston community, purchased her. The Wheatley's encouraged and taught her, and within sixteen months Phillis was reading and writing fluent English. At the age of fourteen she was writing poetry and hailed as a prodigy of her race. In 1773, Wheatley's first and only published volume, entitled Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral was released. After the death of Mr. and Mrs. Wheatley, Phillis was left to support herself as a poet and sea...

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...n she is free. But, in Our Nig, Frado is treated like a slave and feels confined by the Bellmonts, yet she is a free person. In this way, Wilson seems to complicate and combine these binaries.



Bennett, Jr. Lerone. Before the Mayflower: A history of Black America. New York: Penguin, 1988.

Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. New York: Penguin, 1987.

Shields, John, ed. The Collected works of Phillis Wheatley. New York: Oxford, 1988.

Wilson, Harriet E. Our Nig; or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black. New York: Vintage, 1983.

Voices from the Gaps: Harriet E. Adams Wilson

Voices from the Gaps: Phillis Wheatley
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