Mar 25, 2021 - Sale 2562

Sale 2562 - Lot 258

Price Realized: $ 2,375
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,200 - $ 1,800
WHEATLEY'S FIRST MAGAZINE APPEARANCE (LITERATURE.) Phillis Wheatley. Recollection, to Miss A__ M__, Humbly Inscribed by the Authoress, in the March 1772 issue of The London Magazine. Pages [97]-148. 8vo, disbound; lacking the 3 plates (none of them relating to Wheatley), minimal wear. London, May 1772

Additional Details

The first appearance of Wheatley's fourth published poem, and her first magazine appearance of any kind--preceded only by a broadside, a pamphlet printing, and newspaper appearances. Her book, "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral," was published in London the following year.

The poem appears here on pages 134-135. It is prefaced by a short note from a Boston subscriber describing Wheatley: "There is in this town a young Negro woman, who left her country at ten years of age, and has been in this eight years. She is . . . an accomplished mistress of her pen, and discovers a most surprising genius. . . . The following was occasioned by her being in company with some young ladies of family, when one of them said she did not remember, among all the poetical pieces she had seen, ever to have met with a poem upon Recollection. The African (so let me call her, for so in fact she is) took the hint, went home to her master's, and soon sent what follows." The poem is further prefaced with a dedication note by the author, who is attributed only as "Your very humble servant, Phillis."

The poem begins with a plea to Mneme, the Greek muse of memory, to "inspire . . . your vent'rous Afric in the deep design." It was revised substantially for its book appearance the following year, including that line (changed to "your vent'rous Afric in her great design").

For a summary of Wheatley's early published works, see Mukhtar Ali Isani, "The Contemporaneous Reception of Phillis Wheatley: Newspaper and Magazine Notices during the Years of Fame, 1765-1774," in The Journal of Negro History, Autumn, 2000 (85:4), pages 260-273. We have traced no earlier works by Wheatley at auction since 1935.