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Susanna Moodie

Susanna Moodie: Letters of a Lifetime

Copyright Date: 1985
Pages: 590
  • Book Info
    Susanna Moodie
    Book Description:

    First published in 1985, this volume of letters follows Susanna Moodie from her Suffolk girlhood and her experience as an aspiring young writer in London, through her emigration to Upper Canada and five decades of Canadian life.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8030-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Editorial Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. 1826-1832 ‘The wild Suffolk girl’
    (pp. 1-68)

    In the low and undulating Suffolk countryside, on the Wangford Road about a mile and a half inland from the North Sea coast town of Southwold, stands Reydon Hall, a large brick country house distinguished by towering, ornate chimneys and several prominent front and rear gables in the seventeenth-century Flemish style. Built in 1682 it still stands today, though much altered, behind a high brick wall set close to the road, almost immediately opposite St Margaret’s, the Reydon parish church. It was here that Susanna Moodie spent most of the first thirty years of her life. These years, normally marked...

  7. 1833-1851 ‘Muse on Canadian shores’
    (pp. 69-102)

    Although the letters Susanna wrote about her emigration have not survived, she has left a vivid fictional recreation of her preparations for and voyage to the Canadas inFlora Lyndsay; or, Passages in an Eventful Life(1854). The Moodies boarded an Edinburgh-bound steamer off Southwold beach in late May, parting from friends and loved ones. They spent a month in the Scottish capital visiting Dunbar’s old friends and looking for suitable passage to North America, finally choosing the brigAnnewhich sailed for Quebec on 1 July 1832. The voyage took a tedious two months because their ship was becalmed...

  8. 1852-1862 ‘My pen as a resource’
    (pp. 103-194)

    In literary terms the early 1850s were the apex of Susanna Moodie’s life, for, with the publication ofRoughing It in the Bushin 1852 and her subsequent books, she achieved widespread national and international acclaim. During the years of her prolific contribution to theLiterary Garland, from 1839 to 1851, she seems slowly to have settled upon the idea of writing a book on her experiences of emigration and settlement. The intentions are apparent in the series of ‘Canadian Sketches’ in theGarlandin 1847 that would ultimately be the nucleus of the book. But, in fact, the plan...

  9. 1863-1869 ‘The frowns of an untoward fortune’
    (pp. 195-254)

    The 1860s were difficult years for Susanna Moodie. Early in the decade, disappointment and bitterness accompanied her husband’s resignation as sheriff of Hastings County. The letters she wrote after this event frequently mention illnesses, the frailties of old age, tensions in family relationships, and the constant threat of poverty, reflecting her response to much changed circumstances. But, characteristically, her moods varied considerably. There is a feeling, too, of returning strength, energy, even a certainjoie de vivre, particularly beginning in the fall of 1866. It is almost as if Susanna needed to feel the full weight of defeat, loss, and...

  10. 1869-1882 ‘The soul is always young’
    (pp. 255-352)

    During the last sixteen years of her life, Susanna Moodie experienced loneliness and physical deterioration. Nevertheless, she was well cared for by her children, especially Katie Vickers and Robert Moodie, and to a lesser extent Agnes Fitzgibbon Chamberlin. Her letters from late in 1869 to 1882, the majority written to her sister Catharine, are full of news about children and grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews; yet her thoughts turn frequently to memories of her own generation, to her youth in England and to her early years in Canada. Her delight in the birth of a new grandchild is accompanied...

  11. 1884-1885 Afterword
    (pp. 353-357)

    By late 1884 it was evident that Susanna required constant supervision. Her eyes were weak, her body frail, and her mind distorted the world around her into echoes of the past. Robert’s Wilton Crescent house was not large enough to accommodate the nurse Katie felt her mother should have; thus she was moved to the Vickers’ house on Adelaide Street for the last three months of her life. Catharine came down from Lakefield to be with her; on 28 March 1885, she wrote her friend Ellen Dunlop:

    ... I have a charming room with a fire and Mrs. V. sits...

    (pp. 358-364)
  13. Sources of Letters and Illustrations
    (pp. 365-368)
  14. Index
    (pp. 369-390)