Richardson, Bill 1955-
RICHARDSON, Bill 1955-
Born 1955, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Education: University of Manitoba, B.A., 1976.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, Douglas & McIntyre Publishing Group, Suite 201, 2323 Quebec St., Vancouver, British Columbia V5T 4S7, Canada.
Writer, humorist, poet. Worked as a children's librarian; Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), 1988—, Radio One, story producer and cohost of Gabereau, host of Crosswords, 1992-95, Radio Two, host of RSVP (renamed As You Like It), 1995-97, Radio One, host of Richardson's Roundup, 1997—, host of Canada Reads.
Stephen Leacock Award for humor, 1994, for Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast; D.H.L., University of Winnipeg, 1998.
After Hamelin, Annick Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000.
(Compiler) Dear Sad Goat: A Roundup of Truly Canadian Tales and Letters, Douglas & McIntyre (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2002.
Sally Dog Little, illustrated by Céline Malépart, Annick Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2002.
Sally Dog Little, Undercover Agent, illustrated by Céline Malépart, Annick Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2003.
But If They Do, illustrated by Marc Mongeau, Annick Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2003.
Canada Customs: Droll Recollections, Musings, and Quibbles, Brighouse Press (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1988.
Queen of All the Dustballs: And Other Epics of Everyday Life, Polestar Book Publishers (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1992.
Come into My Parlour: Cautionary Verses and Instructive Tales for the New Millennium, illustrated by Chum McLeod, Polestar Book Publishers (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1994.
Guy to Goddess: An Intimate Look at Drag Queens, photographs by Rosamond Norbury, Whitecap Books (North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1994.
Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast Pillow Book, illustrated by Rose Cowles, Douglas & McIntyre (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1995.
Bachelor Brothers' Bedside Companion, illustrated by Rose Cowles, Douglas & McIntyre (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1996.
Scorned and Beloved: Dead of Winter Meetings with Canadian Eccentrics, Knopf Canada (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1997.
Oddball0ommat;large, Douglas & McIntyre (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1998.
Waiting for Gertrude: A Graveyard Gothic, illustrated by Bill Bechet, Douglas & McIntyre (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2003.
Columnist for the Vancouver Sun and XTRA West; narrator of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, CBC Radio, 1999.
Many of Richardson's books have been adapted for audio, including After Hamlin, Dear Sad Goat, Sally Dog Little, Canada Customs, Queen of All the Dustballs, Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast, Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast Pillow Book, Bachelor Brothers' Bedside Companion, and Scorned and Beloved: Dead of Winter Meetings with Canadian Eccentrics.
Bill Richardson is well known to Canadian audiences as the host of several Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) programs. His debut came in 1984, when he read a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale for the CBC Vancouver station, and his career as an on-air personality began in 1988. After functioning as a story writer and cohost for Vicki Gabereau's afternoon show for three years, his own Crosswords became the substitute for the first hour of Gabereau. He has also been heard by audiences in the United States, since his popular RSVP, renamed As You Like It, was carried by National Public Radio (NPR). The literary humorist is sometimes called Canada's Garrison Keillor. Richardson has also written a number of books, including several stories for children. His first volumes are collections of his thoughts and musings, many of which were generated by his radio programs, as well as by life itself. George Kaufman, in a review of Queen of All the Dustballs: And Other Epics of Everyday Life for Books in Canada, said that Richardson "has a wry, clever sense of humor."
Richardson's Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast is about brothers Virgil and Hector, who run their own bed and breakfast on an island near Vancouver. They have remained bachelors into their fifties, although Hector has a girlfriend who writes for a small scandal sheet. The brothers have a cat named Waffle and a potty-mouthed parrot named Mrs. Rochester. In addition to their stories, the book is a running account of the tales of their guests, who have noted them in the guest book. Richardson first presented them as episodes of the Gabereau show. He followed this work with two more "Brothers" books. Of the first book, Stephen Smith said in Quill & Quire that "full of bibliophilic nods and nudges, Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast is the product of an educated and sprightly imagination." And a Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that "Richardson's voice is impressively versatile.… This quiet charmer is a bibliophile's delight."
Richardson, who is openly gay, has also produced the coffee-table book Guy to Goddess: An Intimate Look at Drag Queens, with photographer Rosamond Norbury. Canadian Book Review Annual's Ian C. Nelson noted Richardson's "honesty" in presenting the pictorial that also includes tips, adding that he "provides sympathetic—even endearing—insight into the world of gay drag." Maclean's contributor Chris Wood wrote that Richardson "claims to have little interest in the political agenda of many gay activists. 'I think it is good for people to know that is the way I live my life,' says Richardson.… 'But I don't want to be identified as a gay writer.'"
Scorned and Beloved: Dead of Winter Meetings with Canadian Eccentrics is Richardson's collection of biographical sketches about such intriguing present and past Canadians as a female prophet who once owned a healing duck and a man who lives in the secluded wilderness. James Horner wrote for Canadian Content online that "this is no pedestrian biography. It is a tale of many told through the experiences of one insightful individual," adding that it "proves itself an endearing labor of personal growth."
January Magazine contributor Linda Richards, who called Richardson "the quintessential Canadian," counted him among those authors "whose ability to write in several genres seems to push against their own success. Writers whose ability to tell many types of stories well and elegantly, combined with their own inability to see their work as important or meaningful, fights against the success of their books in the wider world." Richards reviewed After Hamelin, Richardson's first book for young people. It is the story of Penelope, who is now 101 years old and who was the single child left behind when the Pied Piper led the children from Hamelin forever. Richards felt that although the book is written for readers from approximately ten to thirteen, adults would also enjoy it. "Penelope's world, through Richardson's craft, is vast and lovely," asserted the critic. "Richardson manages the tale with a delicate combination of dry wit, happy irony, high adventure, and the merest touch of sadness."
Richards also interviewed Richardson about his radio program Richardson's Roundup, which the broadcaster calls just "The Roundup," and described as "a scrapbook or an album of some kind, and little bits of sound get pasted in. So there is fiction throughout, and there are radio dramas, but what people really like about it is the way it's audience driven." Richardson added, "I facilitate the telling of stories and sort of make it possible. I give [listeners] a forum to tell their stories.… And for my own satisfaction as an editor—which is really what I am there: an editor and presenter—for my own satisfaction I try to make it so there's a continuity, and one day relates to the next, and one part of the show relates to the others."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Books in Canada, February, 1993, George Kaufman, review of Queen of All the Dustballs: And Other Epics of Everyday Life, p. 38.
Canadian Book Review Annual, 1994, Don Precosky, review of Come into My Parlour: Cautionary Verses and Instructive Tales for the New Millennium, p. 218, and Ian C. Nelson, review of Guy to Goddess: An Intimate Look at Drag Queens, p. 4227.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 1996, review of Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast, p. 1084.
Maclean's, August 1, 1994, Chris Wood, "Man of (Many) Letters," p. 44.
Publishers Weekly, July 29, 1996, review of Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast, p. 72.
Quill & Quire, December, 1993, Stephen Smith, review of Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast, p. 27; October, 1995, Bert Archer, review of Bachelor Brothers' Bed and Breakfast Pillow Book, p. 25.
January Magazine Online,http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (August 12, 2004), Linda Richards, interview with Bill Richardson.*
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