John Richardson was born in 1796 in Queenston, Ontario. At the age of fifteen he enlisted as a gentleman volunteer with the 41st Regiment of the British Army. 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.
The first Canadian-born novelist to achieve international recognition, 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 (1832), 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 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 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.
Books in the NCL: