Richardson, John


Richardson, John
born Oct. 4, 1796, probably Fort George, Upper Canada
died May 12, 1852, New York, N.Y., U.S.

Canadian writer.

His experience in the British army in the War of 1812 and later abroad provided material for some of his writings. The first Canadian novelist to write in English, he won acclaim with his third novel and only enduring work, Wacousta (1832), a gothic story about the Indian uprising led by Pontiac. His nonfiction includes Personal Memoirs of Major Richardson (1838) and War of 1812 (1842).

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▪ Canadian writer
born Oct. 4, 1796, probably Fort George, Upper Canada [now Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., Can.]
died May 12, 1852, New York, N.Y., U.S.

      Canadian writer of historical and autobiographical romantic novels.

      Little is known of Richardson's early years. As a British volunteer in the War of 1812, he was taken prisoner and held in Kentucky. After his release some nine months later, he served as a British officer in England, Barbados, and Spain. He returned to Canada in 1838 and remained there in a variety of positions until 1849, when he moved to New York.

      Richardson's first publication was the “metrical romance” Tecumseh; or, The Warrior of the West (1828). He wrote his first novel, Écarté; or, The Salons of Paris, 3 vol. (1829), in a realistic but somewhat sensational style. Its sequel was Frascati's; or, Scenes in Paris (1830). His only enduring work is his third novel, Wacousta; or, The Prophecy, 2 vol. (1832), a Gothic story about Pontiac's War (the Indian uprising of 1763–64). Its sequel, The Canadian Brothers; or, The Prophecy Fulfilled, 2 vol. (1840; U.S. edition, Matilda Montgomerie; or the Prophecy Fulfilled), was less successful. Among his works of nonfiction are Personal Memoirs of Major Richardson (1838); War of 1812 (1842), a historical account of his personal experiences; and Eight Years in Canada (1847). He also wrote many short stories published both in Canada and the United States. His later novels include The Monk Knight of St. John; a Tale of the Crusades (1850), Hardscrabble; or, The Fall of Chicago (1856), about the Indian attack on Fort Dearborn in 1812; Wau-nan-gee; or, The Massacre at Chicago (1852), and Westbrook, the Outlaw; or, The Avenging Wolf (1853).

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