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Ashton Warner, d. 1831 and Susanna Moodie, 1803-1885
Negro Slavery Described by a Negro: Being the Narrative of Ashton Warner, a Native of St. Vincent's. With an Appendix Containing the Testimony of Four Christian Ministers, Recently Returned from the Colonies, on the System of Slavery as It Now Exists
London: Samuel Maunder, 1831.


Susanna Moodie, nee Strickland, one of eight children, grew up in Suffolk, England. She became a professional writer, as did five of her sisters, and was known best for her children's stories, local color sketches, poetry, and fiction. Susanna married John Moodie in 1831, and by 1832, they had left England to settle near Ontario, on the Canadian frontier, where she continued to write about her new experiences. Mrs. Moodie's writing career reached its peak in the 1850s, with the publication of Roughing It in the Bush (1852), followed by its sequel, Life in the Clearings versus the Bush (1853) and Flora Lindsay (1854), a fictionalized account of her emigration experiences. Moodie eventually exchanged writing for painting still-life watercolors. After her husband's death in 1869, Susanna Moodie remained in Canada to be close to her sister and four children. She died in Toronto in 1885.

Before her marriage, Susanna met Thomas Pringle, the secretary of the Anti-Slavery League in England. As a result of their acquaintance, she became interested in the anti- slavery movement and transcribed the narratives of Ashton Warner and Mary Prince.

Ashton Warner was born in St. Vincent, an island in the West Indies. Daphne Crosbie, Warner's aunt and a former slave, purchased Warner, his mother, and other relatives and freed them. However, when he was about ten years old, Warner was forced into slavery again because Mr. Wilson, a plantation owner, questioned his claims to freedom. Despite the legal papers his mother and aunt held documenting his freedom, Warner was forced to remain a slave. Although he was not subjected to the same degree of brutality as other slaves, Warner became indignant and often defiant, because he believed in the legitimacy of his status as a free man. He eventually escaped and arrived in England in 1830, where he tried to contact Mr. Wilson in the hope of securing his freedom. Although Mr. Wilson had died, his executors agreed to investigate the matter. However, Ashton Warner died before a decision was reached and his narrative was published.

Work Consulted: Susanna Moodie and Catharine Parr Traill, 22 Mar. 2002, National Library of Canada, 28 Apr. 2003, <>.

Monique Prince

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