John Richardson

(1796—1852) author

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(1796–1852). The garrisons of Upper Canada shaped the early years of one of our earliest novelists. Born in Queenston, Upper Canada (Ontario), he grew up in Amherstburgh (Fort Malden) on the Detroit River. Richardson's father was a British medical officer and his mother the offspring of John Askin, a leading fur trader and (probably) a member of the Ottawa tribe. 1812 saw Richardson serving as a gentleman-volunteer; he and his brother were allowed to raise the British colours over the captured Fort Detroit. Captured during Tecumseh's last stand at Moraviantown in 1813, Richardson was a prisoner-of-war in Ohio and Kentucky for a year. Tecumseh remained a lifelong hero to him, and his narratives are filled with the violence and savagery that he witnessed in forest warfare. His commission in the British Army came too late for him to fight in the Napoleonic wars, so he spent 1816-18 in the garrisons of the West Indies. There he endured yellow fever and witnessed the brutalities of both the slaveholders and the army in which he served. Settling in London in 1818, then adventuring in Paris, he followed the rackety existence of a half-pay officer/adventurer on the make. In 1825 in Paris he married Jane Marsh, who died a few years later (in 1832 he wed Maria Caroline Drayson, who died in 1846).


From The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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