She was an author, poet and hymn-writer born in
Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, and raised in another small village in the
county. Her father was a soap and
candle manufacturer and her uncle was an editor of The Gospel Magazine
and an evangelist.
Her studies were taken at a school in Southsea that
had many French girls for students and she began writing stories and poems
from the time she was young.
Her poem “The Lesson of the Water-Mill” was published
when she was fifteen and this brought her success when it became a song
that was popular on both sides of the Atlantic. A further poem, “Pansies”,
gave rise to the “Sarah Doudney” pansy being created and named
As an author she wrote many stories and poems for
children, especially girls, as well as being a regular contributor to
various magazines such as the Churchman’s Shilling Magazine,
Girl’s Own Paper, Good Words, Quiver and All the Year Round
which was owned and edited by Charles Dicken’s. Under Grey Walls, which was
her first novel, was published in 1871 and that same year her collection of
hymns, Psalms of Life was also published.
As a hymn-writer she wrote the words to “The
Christian’s Good Night”, “For All Thy Care We Bless
Thee” and “The Master Hath Come” was written to the tune
of the popular Welsh song “The Ash Grove”.
She moved to Oxford after the death of her parents and
died there in 1926 in Oxford, England, at the age of 85 having published
around 35 novels.