Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

John Buchan (1) [1875–1940]

This page covers the author of The Thirty-Nine Steps.

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

MembersReviewsPopularityRatingFavorited   Events   
14,466 (18,491)4281,389 (3.62)4
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 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)
— biography from The Thirty-Nine Steps
… (more)
The Thirty-Nine Steps 4,914 copies, 175 reviews
Greenmantle 1,312 copies, 30 reviews
Mr. Standfast 609 copies, 12 reviews
Prester John 552 copies, 8 reviews
The Three Hostages 524 copies, 14 reviews
The Island of Sheep 451 copies, 7 reviews
John Macnab 358 copies, 12 reviews
Huntingtower 349 copies, 7 reviews
Witch Wood 249 copies, 4 reviews
Sick Heart River 209 copies, 3 reviews
The House of the Four Winds 197 copies, 3 reviews
Castle Gay 186 copies, 5 reviews
Memory Hold-The-Door 173 copies, 6 reviews
The Dancing Floor 171 copies, 3 reviews
The Free Fishers 169 copies, 6 reviews
The Gap in the Curtain 150 copies, 3 reviews
The Power-House 142 copies, 7 reviews
The Courts of the Morning 137 copies, 1 review
The Blanket of the Dark 135 copies, 3 reviews
Midwinter 130 copies, 1 review
The Runagates Club 108 copies, 1 review
Salute to Adventurers 107 copies, 2 reviews
Stories 88 copies, 3 reviews
Oliver Cromwell 87 copies
John Burnet of Barns 82 copies, 4 reviews
Montrose 75 copies, 1 review
Sir Walter Scott 68 copies, 1 review
Augustus 57 copies, 1 review
The Half-Hearted 55 copies, 1 review
A History of the Great War 46 copies, 1 review
Julius Caesar 38 copies
The Long Traverse 26 copies, 2 reviews
Supernatural Tales 20 copies, 1 review
Sir Walter Raleigh 16 copies, 1 review
The Far Islands 15 copies, 1 review
The Thirty Nine Steps [1978 film] (Novel) 13 copies, 1 review
Men and Deeds 8 copies
Modern Short Stories (Editor) 7 copies
Basilissa 3 copies
No-man's-land 3 copies
Fullcircle 3 copies
Spies and Secret Agents (Contributor) 3 copies
Skule Skerry 3 copies
Divus Johnston 2 copies, 1 review
Fountainblue 2 copies
Space 2 copies
English Literature, Vols. 1-2 (Introduction) 1 copy
Tales Before Tolkien: The Roots of Modern Fantasy (Contributor) 567 copies, 8 reviews
The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories (Contributor) 509 copies, 7 reviews
Gone to Earth (Introduction, some editions) 347 copies, 8 reviews
The Spy's Bedside Book (Contributor) 330 copies, 1 review
The 39 Steps [1935 film] (original novel) 248 copies, 5 reviews
The Oxford Book of Fantasy Stories (Contributor) 182 copies, 2 reviews
The Fantastic Imagination (Contributor) 143 copies, 1 review
The Mammoth Book of Modern Ghost Stories (Contributor) 122 copies, 4 reviews
The Big Book of Adventure Stories (Contributor) 97 copies, 3 reviews
The 39 Steps [play] (Original story) 95 copies, 2 reviews
Chilling Horror Short Stories (Contributor) 89 copies
The New Penguin Book of Scottish Short Stories (Contributor) 66 copies, 1 review
Scottish Ghost Stories (Contributor) 66 copies
The Valancourt Book of Horror Stories: Volume Two (Contributor) 59 copies, 3 reviews
Five Spy Novels (Contributor) 53 copies, 1 review
Great Classic Stories: 22 Unabridged Classics (Author, some editions) 46 copies, 3 reviews
The edge of the chair; [anthology] (Contributor) 41 copies, 1 review
Scottish Stories of Fantasy and Horror (Contributor) 41 copies, 1 review
To Catch a Spy: An Anthology of Favourite Spy Stories (Contributor, some editions; Contributor) 40 copies
Swords & Steam Short Stories (Gothic Fantasy) (Contributor) 37 copies, 1 review
The Screaming Skull and Other Classic Horror Stories (Contributor) 31 copies, 2 reviews
And the Darkness Falls (Contributor) 22 copies, 1 review
Annual Macabre 1998 (Contributor) 13 copies, 2 reviews
The Face of Scotland (Foreword) 13 copies
Prince of Darkness (Contributor) 12 copies
Best Secret Service Stories (Contributor) 9 copies
Escape Stories (Contributor) 9 copies
The Haunted and the Haunters (Contributor) 9 copies
A Collection of Action Stories (Contributor) 7 copies
Thirteen Short Stories (Contributor) 5 copies
Thrilling Adventure Stories (Contributor) 4 copies
The poetry of Neil Munro (Preface) 3 copies
A Modern Galaxy: Short Stories (Contributor) 2 copies
Argosy, December 17, 1938 (Contributor) 2 copies
Argosy, December 24, 1938 (Contributor) 2 copies
Spionhistorier fra hele verden (Contributor) 2 copies, 1 review
Argosy, December 10, 1938 (Contributor) 2 copies
Rosemary (Contributor) 1 copy
20th century (254) 20th century fiction (96) adventure (731) anthology (388) biography (129) British (185) British literature (98) Buchan (121) classic (135) classics (175) crime (101) ebook (161) England (132) English (103) English literature (153) espionage (456) fantasy (362) fiction (2,774) Folio Society (202) ghost stories (74) historical fiction (108) history (100) horror (133) John Buchan (265) Kindle (134) literature (194) mystery (569) novel (376) read (124) Richard Hannay (135) Scotland (359) Scottish (103) Scottish literature (92) short stories (465) spy (212) suspense (111) thriller (554) to-read (543) unread (156) WWI (391)
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical name
Legal name
Other names
Date of birth
Date of death
Burial location
Country (for map)
Place of death
Cause of death
Places of residence
Awards and honors
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.

Member ratings

Average: (3.62)
0.5 8
1 44
1.5 12
2 177
2.5 83
3 715
3.5 263
4 837
4.5 85
5 448

Author pictures (3)


(see all 3 author pictures)

Improve this author

Combine/separate works

Author division

"John Buchan" is composed of at least 1 distinct authors, divided by their works. You can edit the division.

Name disambiguation

Go to the disambiguation page to edit author name combination and separation.


John Buchan is composed of 9 names. You can examine and separate out names.

Combine with…


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 176,923,847 books! | Top bar: Always visible