Encouraged by her local pastor, Ann Plato published Essays: Including Biographies and Miscellaneous Pieces, in Prose and Poetry (1841) as a teenager. The Reverend James W.C. Pennington—an abolitionist leader and a pastor at the Colored Congregational Church of Hartford, Connecticut—introduced the collection of 16 brief essays, four biographical pieces, and 20 poems as “the pious sentiments of a youth devoted to the glory of God, and the best good of her readers.” Plato later worked as a teacher at the Black Zion Methodist Church School of Hartford.

Classical and modern historical knowledge is reflected in Plato’s work, while slavery is noticeably absent. Writing mostly in iambic tetrameter, Plato fuses a romantic imagination with Puritan religious beliefs.

Plato most likely possessed African American and Native American ancestry. She was one of the earliest African American women to publish a collection of poems and essays, and to publish a book.

Poems by Ann Plato
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