1752–1784

Introduction

Died: Au­gust 3, 1784, Ips­wich, Suf­folk, Eng­land.

Buried: Tack­et Street Bu­ri­al Ground, Ips­wich, Suf­folk, Eng­land.

Biography

A do­mes­tic ser­vant, Har­ris­on taught her­self to read and write. At age 20, she suf­fered an ill­ness, pos­si­bly tu­ber­cu­lo­sis, from which she did not ex­pect to re­co­ver. She gave man­u­scripts of her po­et­ry to John Con­der, a Con­gre­ga­tion­al­ist min­is­ter, who ed­ite­d and pub­lished her po­ems.

The pre­face to the first ed­i­tion of her col­lect­ed hymns, Songs in the Night (Ip­swich, Eng­land: Pun­chard & Jer­myn, 1780), states she was a ve­ry ob­scure young wo­man, and quite des­ti­tute of the ad­van­tag­es of ed­u­ca­tion, as well as un­der great bo­di­ly af­flic­tion. Her fa­ther dy­ing when she was young, and leav­ing a large fa­mi­ly un­pro­vid­ed for, she went out to ser­vice at six­teen years of age.

Songs in the Night went through at least 21 edi­tions in Bri­tain and Am­er­i­ca, mak­ing it one of the best sell­ing col­lect­ions writ­ten by a la­bor­ing-class po­et in the late 18th Cen­tu­ry.

This in­scrip­tion was placed at her grave:

SUSANNA HARRISON,
DIED 3D OF AUGUST 1784,
AGED XXXII.
DURING TWELVE YEARS’ AFFLICTION
SHE DISCOVERED A GRACIOUS SPIRIT,
AND WAS THE AUTHOR OF
SONGS IN THE NIGHT
BY WHICH, SHE BEING DEAD, YET SPEAKETH.

Sources

Lyrics

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