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John Buchan (1) (1875–1940)

Author of The Thirty-Nine Steps

For other authors named John Buchan, see the disambiguation page.

267+ Works 15,899 Members 396 Reviews 4 Favorited

About the Author

John Buchan was born in Perth on 26th August, 1875. Educated at Glasgow University and Brasenose College, Oxford, in 1898 Buchan won the Newdigate Prize for poetry. Although trained as a lawyer, Buchan became private secretary to Lord Alfred Milner, high commissioner for South Africa. In 1903 he show more returned to England where he became a director of the publishing company, Thomas Nelson & Sons. In 1910 Buchan had his first novel, Prester John, published. In July 1914, Blackwood's Magazine began serializing Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps. With Britain on the verge of war, the nation was obsessed with German spy fever and its subject matter made it an immediate success. When it was published in book form, it sold over 25,000 copies in three months. Charles Masterman, the journalist, was appointed head of the government's War Propaganda Bureau. Masterman recruited Buchan and asked him to organise the publication of a history of the war in the form of a monthly magazine. Published by his own company, the first installment of the Nelson's History of the War appeared in February, 1915. A further twenty-three appeared at regular intervals throughout the war. In the spring of 1915, Buchan agreed to become one of the five journalists attached to the British Army. He was given responsibility for providing articles for The Times and the Daily News. In June 1916, Buchan was recruited by the British Army to draft communiqués for Sir Douglas Haig and other members of the General Headquarters Staff. Given the rank of Second Lieutenant in the Intelligence Corps, Buchan was also provided with the documents needed to write the Nelson's History of the War. Buchan's History of the War provided the public with a completely false impression of what was going on the Western Front. Buchan also wrote a series of propoganda pamphlets published by Oxford University Press. In February, 1917, the government established a Department of Information. Given the rank Lieutenant Colonel, Buchan was put in charge on the department on an annual salary of £1,000 a year. After the war Buchan continued to write adventures stories such as Huntingtower, The Three Hostages, and Witch Wood (1927). He also became involved in politics and in 1927 was elected Conservative MP for the Scottish Universities. Buchan held the seat until granted the title Baron Tweedsmuir in 1935. Buchan was president of the Scottish History Society from 1929 to 1932, and wrote biographies of Montrose and Sir Walter Scott. Buchan also served as governor-general of Canada from 1935 to 1937 and chancellor of Edinburgh University from 1937 to 1940. John Buchan died on 12th February, 1940. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress).

Series

Works by John Buchan

The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915) 5,362 copies
Greenmantle (1916) 1,394 copies
Mr. Standfast (1919) 645 copies
Prester John (1910) 585 copies
The Three Hostages (1924) 557 copies
The Island of Sheep (1936) 479 copies
Huntingtower (1922) 377 copies
John Macnab (1925) 374 copies
The 39 Steps [1935 film] (1935) — original novel — 301 copies
Witch Wood (1927) 270 copies
Sick Heart River (1941) 218 copies
The House of the Four Winds (1925) 209 copies
Castle Gay (1925) 196 copies
Memory Hold-the-Door (1940) 195 copies
The Dancing Floor (1926) 191 copies
The Free Fishers (1934) 179 copies
The Gap in the Curtain (1932) 168 copies
The Courts of the Morning (1929) 152 copies
The Power-House (1913) 149 copies
The Blanket of the Dark (1931) 148 copies
Midwinter (1923) 142 copies
The Path of the King (1921) 126 copies
Salute to Adventurers (1915) 114 copies
The Runagates Club (1928) 113 copies
Stories (2008) 93 copies
Oliver Cromwell (1934) 92 copies
John Burnet of Barns (1898) 91 copies
A Prince of the Captivity (1933) 88 copies
Montrose (1928) 81 copies
Sir Walter Scott (1925) 79 copies
Augustus (1939) 64 copies
The Half-Hearted (1900) 58 copies
The Magic Walking Stick (1914) 46 copies
The Massacre of Glencoe (1985) 42 copies
A Lost Lady of Old Years (1899) 41 copies
The King's grace, 1910-1935 (1935) 38 copies
Julius Caesar (1930) 38 copies
The Battle of the Somme (2010) 31 copies
The Long Traverse (1941) 30 copies
Sir Quixote of the Moors (1895) 24 copies
Supernatural Tales (1997) 23 copies
The 39 Steps [2008 TV Movie] (2008) — Novel — 22 copies
Homilies and Recreations (1926) 19 copies
A Lodge in the Wilderness (1906) 19 copies
The Far Islands (1984) 17 copies
Sir Walter Raleigh (1911) 17 copies
The Clearing House (1946) 15 copies
The Thirty Nine Steps [1978 film] (1978) — Novel — 14 copies
Lord Minto, A Memoir (1924) 11 copies
The Marquis of Montrose (1996) 11 copies
The African Colony (1903) 11 copies
Scholar Gipsies (1896) 10 copies
Poems Scots and English (1917) 9 copies
Men and Deeds (1935) 8 copies
Canadian Occasions (1940) 8 copies
Modern Short Stories (1926) — Editor — 7 copies
Suuren käärmeen luola (1962) 6 copies
The Wind in the Portico (2020) 6 copies
Episodes of the Great War (1936) 5 copies
Gordon at Khartoum (2001) 5 copies
The Grove Of Ashtaroth (2018) 5 copies
Sinisen antiloopin lähde (1962) 5 copies
Fullcircle (2013) 4 copies
No-man's-land (2018) 4 copies
Brasenose College (1898) 4 copies
Skule Skerry 4 copies
MUSA PISCATRIX [The Bodley Anthologies]. (1896) — Editor — 4 copies
Basilissa (1994) 3 copies
The Battle Of Jutland (2013) 3 copies
Spies and Secret Agents (1993) — Contributor — 3 copies
Space (1990) 2 copies
Divus Johnston (2014) 2 copies
The Outgoing Of The Tide (2011) 2 copies
Fountainblue 2 copies
Great Occasions (1941) 1 copy
John Buchan on Angling (2016) 1 copy
The Pilgrim Fathers (2012) 1 copy
English Literature, Vols. 1-2 — Introduction — 1 copy

Associated Works

Tales Before Tolkien: The Roots of Modern Fantasy (2003) — Contributor — 605 copies
The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories (1986) — Contributor — 541 copies
Gone to Earth (1917) — Introduction, some editions — 362 copies
The Spy's Bedside Book (1957) — Contributor — 352 copies
The Oxford Book of Fantasy Stories (1994) — Contributor — 188 copies
The Fantastic Imagination (1977) — Contributor — 154 copies
The Mammoth Book of Modern Ghost Stories (2007) — Contributor — 133 copies
Chilling Horror Short Stories (2016) — Contributor — 129 copies
The 39 Steps [play] (2009) — Original story — 120 copies
The Big Book of Adventure Stories (2011) — Contributor — 112 copies
The Penguin Book of First World War Stories (2007) — Contributor — 107 copies
The Oxford Book of Scottish Short Stories (1995) — Contributor — 102 copies
Scottish Ghost Stories (2009) — Contributor — 77 copies
The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume Two (2017) — Contributor — 76 copies
Heroic Fantasy Short Stories (Gothic Fantasy) (2017) — Contributor — 76 copies
The New Penguin Book of Scottish Short Stories (1983) — Contributor — 70 copies
The Bedside Book of Famous British Stories (1940) — Contributor — 66 copies
Five Spy Novels (1962) — Contributor — 55 copies
Swords & Steam Short Stories (Gothic Fantasy) (2016) — Contributor — 55 copies
Great Classic Stories: 22 Unabridged Classics (2006) — Contributor, some editions — 52 copies
Alfred Hitchcock's Fear and Trembling (1948) — Contributor; Contributor, some editions — 49 copies
To Catch a Spy: An Anthology of Favourite Spy Stories (1964) — Contributor, some editions; Contributor — 46 copies
Scottish Stories of Fantasy and Horror (1971) — Contributor — 44 copies
The Oxford Book of Historical Stories (1994) — Contributor — 40 copies
The Screaming Skull and Other Classic Horror Stories (2010) — Contributor — 37 copies
The Monster-Maker and Other Science Fiction Classics (2012) — Contributor — 29 copies
Agents & Spies Short Stories (Gothic Fantasy) (2018) — Contributor — 28 copies
Polar Horrors: Chilling Tales from the Ends of the Earth (2022) — Contributor — 26 copies
Detective Thrillers Short Stories (Gothic Fantasy) (2020) — Contributor — 24 copies
And the Darkness Falls (1946) — Contributor — 21 copies
British Weird (2020) — Contributor — 17 copies
Prince of Darkness (1978) — Contributor — 16 copies
Annual Macabre 1998 (1998) — Contributor — 14 copies
The Face of Scotland (1934) — Foreword — 13 copies
Visions and Imaginations: Classic Fantasy Fiction (2005) — Contributor — 13 copies
The Haunted and the Haunters (1975) — Contributor — 10 copies
Escape Stories (1980) — Contributor — 9 copies
Best Secret Service Stories (1960) — Contributor — 8 copies
A Collection of Action Stories (1988) — Contributor — 7 copies
Thirteen Short Stories (1968) — Contributor — 5 copies
Thrilling Adventure Stories (1988) — Contributor — 5 copies
The poetry of Neil Munro (1989) — Preface — 4 copies
The Word Lives On: A Treasury of Spiritual Fiction (1951) — Contributor — 4 copies
Argosy, December 24, 1938 (1938) — Contributor — 2 copies
Argosy, December 17, 1938 (1938) — Contributor — 2 copies
Short Stories: The Timeless Collection (Unabridged) (2007) — Contributor — 2 copies
Spionhistorier fra hele verden — Contributor — 2 copies
Adventure [Vol. 2 No. 2, June 1911] (1911) — Contributor — 2 copies
Argosy, December 10, 1938 (1938) — Contributor — 2 copies
A Modern Galaxy: Short Stories — Contributor — 2 copies
Adventure [Vol. 1 No. 6, April 1911] (1911) — Contributor — 1 copy
Adventure [Vol. 2 No. 1, May 1911] (1911) — Contributor — 1 copy
Adventure [Vol. 1 No. 5, March 1911] (1911) — Contributor — 1 copy
Rosemary — Contributor — 1 copy
Short Stories: The Nostalgia Collection (2008) — Contributor — 1 copy

Tagged

20th century (261) 20th century fiction (96) adventure (785) anthology (409) biography (136) British (190) British literature (104) Buchan (119) classic (138) classics (198) crime (111) ebook (170) England (140) English (105) English literature (158) espionage (479) fantasy (382) fiction (2,900) Folio Society (212) ghost stories (79) historical fiction (114) history (106) horror (153) John Buchan (270) Kindle (151) literature (216) mystery (599) novel (403) read (130) Richard Hannay (137) Scotland (376) Scottish (111) Scottish literature (99) short stories (493) spy (216) suspense (116) thriller (576) to-read (635) unread (160) WWI (406)

Common Knowledge

Other names
Tweedsmuir, Lord
Tweedsmuir, John Buchan, 1st Baron
Birthdate
1875-08-26
Date of death
1940-02-11
Burial location
Elsfield, Oxfordshire, UK
Gender
male
Nationality
UK
Country (for map)
Scotland, UK
Birthplace
Perth, Tayside, Scotland, UK
Place of death
Montréal, Québec, Canada
Places of residence
Perth, Tayside, Scotland, UK
Fife, Scotland, UK
South Africa
Oxford, England, UK
London, England, UK
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (show all 7)
Montréal, Québec, Canada
Education
University of Glasgow (classics)
Oxford University (Brasenose College) (Literae Humaniores)
Occupations
writer
journalist
military officer
politician
MP (Scottish Universities)
governor-general (Canada) (show all 8)
chancellor (Edinburgh University)
diplomat
Relationships
Buchan, Anna (sister)
Buchan, Susan Grosvenor (wife)
Buchan, James (grandson)
Buchan, John Norman Stuart (son)
Buchan, William James de l'Aigle (son)
Buchan, Ursula (granddaughter)
Organizations
Scottish Historical Society
Awards and honors
Privy Counsel of the United Kingdom (1937)
Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (Knight Grand Cross) (1935)
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (1939)
Order of the Companions of Honour (1932)
Hereditary Peerage (1935)
Deputy Lieutenant (show all 9)
James Tait Black Memorial Prize (1928)
Newdigate Prize (1898)
Stanhope Prize (1897)
Short biography
Buchan was the son of a Free Church minister, and grew up in Fife. He read classics at Glasgow University, winning a scholarship that enabled him to continue his studies at Oxford.

After graduating, he went to South Africa in the aftermath of the Boer War as aide to Alfred Milner. After an unsuccessful attempt to make his way as a lawyer, he went into publishing. In 1907, he linked himself to the English aristocracy by marrying the Duke of Westminster's cousin, Susan Grosvenor.

In the years immediately before World War I, he started to make a name for himself as a writer of adventure stories. T

During World War I he continued to write adventure stories in between propaganda work for the government and reporting the war for the Times.

After the war, Buchan settled down in a country house outside Oxford, later becoming a Unionist MP

In 1935 he was appointed Governor-General of Canada. At the time, this was an appointment that went with a peerage, so he became Baron Tweedsmuir. He died in 1940.

Members

Discussions

'The Grove of Ashtaroth' by John Buchan (1912?) in Gothic Literature (March 2019)

Reviews

Read it because it's a classic---but it's just hilarious now. Really a hoot. When Hannay tosses the knife in the air and catches it in his lips to show his steady nerves I thought gosh, it can't get sillier than this but it does. There is a creepy anti-Semitic feel and just ridiculous twists and turns. I'm amazed that it was so popular in it's time.
 
Flagged
dhenn31 | 186 other reviews | Jan 24, 2024 |
A strange, nonstop thriller. The narrator, whom we never really get to know, stumbles into a world of foreign intrigue as he flees a murder accusation. The pacing is odd, almost disconcerting, yet the momentum continues until it suddenly doesn't. Still fun to read.
 
Flagged
R3dH00d | 186 other reviews | Jan 1, 2024 |
I was pleasantly surprised by this little story that caught my attention from the very first page. It's not my normal genre but I've been wanting to cross a few easier reads off my classics challenge lists. Reading it with the author's dedication in mind, it was fun to imagine him cooking up this little tale for his friend to enjoy. This was a super fun story with lots of likeable characters and just enough setting description to keep a little picture in my mind. I love how it ended---splendid!
 
Flagged
classyhomemaker | 186 other reviews | Dec 11, 2023 |
Interesting as an example of the kind of invasion adventure story serial from the period but doesn't really hold up today. The opening chapter has a guy describe a Jewish conspiracy and then when we find out he was wrong about the Jewish part our narrator calls a Greek person a "dago" - very charming example of British upper class prejudices. Overall there's just not an interesting story and the episodes are so clearly tied to fulfilling a serial format that as a novel it's hard to take seriously. It's basically readable but it's so daft and generic with boring chases around the same tiny patch of Scottish land that there's no reason to. Just a historical curiosity. 1 star is a little harsh maybe but it's just. Not good
.
… (more)
 
Flagged
tombomp | 186 other reviews | Oct 31, 2023 |

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Statistics

Works
267
Also by
70
Members
15,899
Popularity
#1,426
Rating
½ 3.6
Reviews
396
ISBNs
1,691
Languages
21
Favorited
4

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