Some people are just born geniuses. Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) was kidnapped from Senegal and sold into slavery at the age of seven or eight, eventually landing up with the Wheatley family of Boston. Within 16 months she had mastered English and was reading the most difficult passages in the King James Bible. Next she tackled Greek and Latin, and by age 14 was a published poet. And she was still a slave. (The Wheatleys eventually freed her.)

The illustration above left, by Scipio Moorhead, appeared on the frontispiece of Phillis’s Poems on Various Subjects; on the right is a modern version by Donna Berger. What both of these images show is a colonial woman’s basic daytime outfit: dress, apron, shawl, and cap. The pieces we suggest, from left to right:

1. Colonial outfit. This 4-piece set gives you everything you need: dress, apron, mob cap, and a shawl to tie over your shoulders in front.
2. To carry with you: Phillis Wheatley, Complete Writings.
3. Ballpoint feather pen. This is a fun prop: it looks like a colonial quill pen, but it’s really a ballpoint.


Other costumes in this category: Notable Women