Susanna Moodie’s Last Letter about Mary Prince

Bird, Eleanor Lucy (2019) Susanna Moodie’s Last Letter about Mary Prince. Notes and Queries, 66 (2). pp. 285-289. ISSN 0029-3970

Full text not available from this repository.


The importance of The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave (1831) as a black Atlantic text and the first black female autobiography published in England is widely recognized. A recent burst of critical attention focuses on the relationship between Mary Prince and her amanuensis Susanna Strickland, later Moodie, who has long been recognised as a canonical Canadian writer. This note looks at a previously unrecognized letter in which Susanna Moodie mentions Mary Prince and the History. Early critics of the History either ignore Strickland’s role or suggest that it is possible to read Prince’s voice beyond the interfering presence of Strickland and the narrative’s editor, the secretary of the London Anti-Slavery Society, Thomas Pringle. However, recent criticism favours the view of the History as a ‘composite text’ collaboratively produced by Prince, Strickland, and Pringle, suggesting that the History does not contain Prince’s true and stable voice, and this is not separable from the text. Gillian Whitlock argues that rather than minimizing the role of Strickland, the relationship between Strickland and Prince was the space in which the narrative was formed. With the silences in the History in mind, Jenny Sharpe examines it and proslavery texts, showing how both are problematic in their construction of Prince but can be combined to explore aspects of Prince’s life that are silenced in the History. Critics of Canadian literature are becoming increasingly engaged with these discussions as they attempt to explore the implications of the History as a text that has been long overlooked that can be read as part of Susanna Strickland’s experiences before she emigrated to Upper Canada and wrote foundational texts about the Canadian settler experience.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Notes and Queries
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? linguistics and languagelanguage and linguisticslibrary and information sciencesliterature and literary theory ??
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
19 May 2023 13:00
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 23:48