The 29th annual James Russell Wiggins Lecture in the Program in the History of the Book in American Culture at the American Antiquarian Society will take place on the evening of Friday, September 28, at 7:00 PM at the Society's library building in Worcester, MA. Titled "In Search of Phillis Wheatley," the lecture will be given by Vincent Carretta, Professor of English at the University of Maryland. Professor Carretta will be talking about his 2011 book Phillis Wheatley: Biography of a Genius in Bondage (Georgia), which is the first full-length biography of Wheatley.
Phillis Wheatley was only about 7 years old when she stepped off a slave ship in Boston harbor in 1761. She rose from the indignity of enslavement to earn international celebrity, only to die in obscurity and poverty. As the first person of African descent and the second woman in America to publish a book, Wheatley wrote remarkable contributions on topics ranging from religion to politics. Wheatley is now widely recognized as the mother of African-American literature. Despite her contemporaneous fame and subsequent reputation, the many mysteries surrounding her life made a biography of her seemingly impossible until 250 years after she left Africa.
The Wiggins Lecture honors James Russell Wiggins, former editor of the Washington Post, former United States ambassador to the United Nations, president of the American Antiquarian Society from 1970 to 1977 and editor of the Ellsworth (Maine) American until his death on November 19, 2000, at the age of 96.
Further details are available at http://www.americanantiquarian.org/wiggins.htm.
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