Born on 26th of August 1875
Died on 11th of February 1940
Quotes from John Buchan
'Without humility there can be '... More
A son of the manse, Buchan was born in Perth on August 26 1875. He was precocious, excelling as a student in Glasgow and then Oxford, winning the Newdigate Prize for poetry and Stanhope Essay Prize, and publishing his first novel Sir Quixote of the Moors while an undergraduate.
Though he read for and was called to the bar his career was not in the law but in a multitude of fields: he was a diplomat and administrator in South Africa; ran the publishing house Thomas Nelson & Son; became an MP; worked in propaganda and intelligence during WWI; and wrote on anything that took his fancy: history, poetry, biography, politics, even a study of the law on taxation of foreign income. His output – more than 80 books - was vast yet skilfully, often beautifully written.
Most famously Buchan wrote thrillers, among them the Hannay series which started with The Thirty-Nine Steps, regularly adapted for small and big screen though not one version has ever captured the book’s magic, especially Hitchcock’s attempt at it.
Buchan’s fiction captures the landscape in which his characters move as well as any other writer of the twentieth century: his love of Scotland – moors, fly-fishing, the mountains, deer-stalking - comes through, as does his feel for South Africa and the countryside exemplified by the land around his estate at Elsfield in Oxfordshire.
Elected a Unionist MP in 1927 he was of independent mind, perhaps failing to win high political office accordingly. In 1935 he was knighted and made Baron Tweedsmuir.
Dismissed by some as a hack he was far from it, his grasp of psychology and the elegance of his prose seen at its best in the posthumously-published Sick Heart River, written when he was serving as Governor-General of Canada, a role where he did much to cement British relations with Canada and the USA in the lead-up to WWII. He died in office in Montreal, Canada, on February 11 1940, aged 64.
http://www.johnbuchansociety.co.uk/ The John Buchan Society
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2 Responses to John Buchan
From Martin on 26th August 2013
Marcus includes some good info, but Buchan wrote many books prior to Prester John. Depending on your viewpoint the first was Essays and Apothegms of Francis Lord Bacon, that he edited and for which he wrote the intro (published 1894), or his first novel as mentioned in my piece above, Sir Quixote of the Moors which came out in 1895. As a collector of his books, incidentally, if anyone can spare a copy of The Law Relating to the Taxation of Foreign Income (1905) I'd love to hear from them!
From Marcus on 29th April 2009
A Scottish novelist and unionist politician, he wrote his first book Prester John in 1910. He is best known for his spy thrillers, the most famous being The Thirty-nine Steps published in 1915, quickly followed by the sequel Greenmantle in 1916. The same year he joined the Britsh Army Intelligence Corps and wrote speeches for Sir Douglas Haig. The last of his 100 works was Sick Heat River (1941). His wife was the writer Susan Buchan. He was made Govenor General of Canada in 1935.
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