John Richardson

John Richardson books and biography

John Richardson

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John Richardson (4 October 1796 – 12 May 1852) was a British Army officer was the first Canadian-born novelist to achieve international recognition.

He was born at Queenston, Ontario on the Niagara River in 1796. His mother Madelaine was the daughter of the fur - trader John Askin and an Ottawa woman. His father Dr Robert Richardson was a surgeon with the Queen’s Rangers. As a young boy he lived for a time with his grandparents in Detroit and later with his parents at Fort Malden, Amhertsburg.

At the age of 16 he enlisted as a gentleman volunteer with the British 41st Regiment. During the War of 1812, he was imprisoned for a year in the United States. His later military service took him to England and, for two years, to the west indies.

Richardson began his fiction-writing career with novels about the British and French societies of his time. In his third and most successful novel, Wacousta, he turned to the North American frontier for his setting and to its recent history for its historical framework. He followed the same practice in the Canadian brothers, the sequel to Wacousta.

In 1838, Richardson returned home from England to Canada, now promoted to the rank of major. He tried to earn his livelihood by writing fiction and by setting up a series of weekly newspapers. He was appointed superintendent of the police on the Welland Canal in 1845, but was relieved of these duties the following year. In 1849 he moved to the United States and settled in New York City, where he continued to write fiction. John Richardson died in New York City in 1852.

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