Lucy Terry is the author of the oldest piece of African American literature. She wrote Bars Flight in 1746. The poem wasn’t actually published until 1855.
Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) has been cited by most critics as having written the first works recognized as African American literature. Wheatley self published the first book of poems entitled Poems in 1773, three years before America’s independence.
William Wells Brown (1814-1884) wrote what is considered to be the first novel by an African American entitled Clotel; or The President’s Daughter(1853). Brown’s novel was based on what was considered to be rumored, Thomas Jefferson fathering a daughter with his slave Sally Hernings. However, because this novel was published in England, the book is not considered the first African American novel published in the United States.
Harriet Wilson is considered to have written the first novel published in the United States. Our Nig (1859) details the difficult lives of Northern free blacks in the United States.
By: Kanika A. Reese