Richardson, John

John Richardson, soldier, writer (b at Queenston, Upper Canada 4 Oct 1796; d at New York 12 May 1852). Richardson's most enduring work, WACOUSTA; OR, THE PROPHECY (1832) is set at the time of PONTIAC's uprising and relates a complex story of betrayal, disguise and slaughter. Reginald Morton, the renegade Scot turned Indian leader, Wacousta, comes to represent the author's perception of the terror and savagery lurking in the Canadian wilderness. The smoother villain, Colonel De Haldimar, demonstrates how much repression, hypocrisy and cold-blooded evil is possible within the civilized garrison. As a youth, Richardson had fought in the WAR OF 1812 alongside TECUMSEH. His attempts to pursue successfully a career first as a soldier and then as a Canadian writer and journalist came to nothing. Except for his incomplete history, The War of 1812 (1842), his other works remain of slight value. Departing from Canada about 1849, he sought a literary career in New York where he died impoverished. Wacousta, however, remains in print. Adapted for the stage in its own day, it was also dramatized by James REANEY.