Skip to main content

Author: Strickland, Susanna


STRICKLAND, Susanna, later MOODIE (1803-85: ODNB)

She was the sixth of eight surviving children born to Thomas Strickland, manager of the Greenland Docks on the Thames, and his second wife Elizabeth Homer. Susanna had five older sisters, including Agnes and Catharine Parr Strickland (qq.v.), and two younger brothers. She was born at Bungay, Suffolk, and by 1808 Thomas was wealthy enough to purchase nearby Reydon Hall where she was educated at home by her father and sisters. When the family began to struggle financially, particularly after the 1818 death of Thomas Strickland, many of the children turned to writing. Susanna published in annuals and periodicals including The Athenaeum and, from 1825, La Belle Assemblée; she also wrote a novel, Spartacus, A Roman Story (1822), and didactic works for children. In 1830 she joined a non-conformist chapel; her only book of verse, Enthusiasm, reflects the spiritual beliefs behind this conversion. At about the same time she assisted Mary Prince, a former slave, in writing her autobiography. Susanna Strickland married John Wedderburn Dunbar Moodie, an Orkneyman and former soldier, on 4 Apr. 1831 at St. Pancras church, London. They travelled to Canada soon after the birth of the first of six surviving children, arriving in Quebec on 30 Aug. 1832 and settling on a farm near Cobourg in Upper Canada before moving to uncleared bush north of Peterborough. John Moodie’s varied and often short-term employment meant that Susanna was frequently left alone to manage both farming and child-rearing. Her most enduringly successful work, Roughing it in the Bush (1852), is closely based on her experiences. She also contributed to periodicals, including The Palladium and Literary Garland. By 1840 John Moodie had been made sheriff in Belleville, Ontario, and Susanna joined him there with the family. In 1863 Moodie resigned his post and he suffered a stroke from which he never fully recovered before his death in 1869. Susanna’s literary output flourished in Belleville—she published five novels and a collection of stories (1853-75)—but the family remained impoverished and she appealed to the RLF for relief in 1868. She was awarded £60. She died on 11 Apr. 1885 at her daughter’s house in Toronto and is buried in Belleville with her husband. (ODNB 5 July 2022; Orlando 5 July 2022; DCB 5 July 2022; RLF file 1678)


Other Names:

  • Mrs. Moodie

Books written (4):

London: J. Green, [1830?]
London: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1831