Classic Author Focus: Susanna Moodie

Susanna Moodie

Susanna Moodie was an English-born Canadian writer who wrote novels, children’s books, and poetry but was most well known for her writings about being a settler in 19th century Canada. While living in Suffolk, she began publishing books in 1822 as Susanna Strickland and was also a member of the Anti-Slavery Society. Shortly after her marriage in 1831, she and her husband, John Moodie, a retired officer, emigrated to Upper Canada (which, oddly, appears to be the southernmost area of Canada, but “upper” probably referred to the upper St. Lawrence) north of Peterborough.

Despite having four children, Moodie continued to write, and her  letters and journals became important sources of information about life in the British colony. She disliked living in the wild, though, and nine years later, she and her husband moved to Belleville, which was slightly more settled. In 1852, she published Roughing It in the Bush, which became a success and is her most well-known work.

Moodie’s work was an inspiration for Margaret Atwood, particularly for Atwood’s book Alias Grace. She was also an inspiration for Carol Shields, who published a critical analysis of her work.

Dates: 1803-1885

Most popular works: Roughing It in the Bush, Life in the Backwoods, Life in the Clearings versus the Bush

Other works: Spartacus, Mark Hurdlestone, Letters of a Lifetime, Patriotic Songs, The Little Quaker, Flora Lyndsay, Enthusiasm and Other Poems

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9 thoughts on “Classic Author Focus: Susanna Moodie

  1. Moodie’s sister, Catherine Parr Trail also wrote a number of books as well. I read her The Backwoods of Canada and it was very good. There was quite a contrast between the sisters. Parr Trail had a very pragmatic attitude towards many challenges and a good perseverance, whereas Moodie tended to complain more. It’s a fun task to read both of their works and compare. Thanks for this author focus! It’s reminded me of my plans to read Roughing It In The Bush in full this year!

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  2. I am really enjoying these Author Focus posts that introduce me to authors I may not know or only know by name, so thanks for them. This one in particular is notable to me for her ‘pioneer life,’ which is one of my reading interests, especially the journals and letters that women wrote as they traveled across the US. I don’t think I have ever read about the Canadian experience, though, so I will keep her in mind!

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      1. That’s what I’m enjoying most with these posts too – finding lesser known new-to-me authors from all round the world.
        Can I throw an Aussie in the ring – Dame Mary Gilmore – a fascinating life?

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