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John Buchan Book and Novel

John Buchan - Author

John Buchan led a truly extraordinary life: he was a diplomat, soldier, barrister, journalist, historian, politician, publisher, poet and novelist. He was born in Perth in 1875, the eldest son of a Free Church of Scotland minister, and educated at Hutcheson’s Grammar School in Glasgow. He graduated from Glasgow University then took a scholarship to Brasenose College, Oxford. During his time there – ‘spent peacefully in an enclave like a monastery’ – he wrote two historical novels.

In 1901 he became a barrister of the Middle Temple and a private secretary to the High Commissioner for South Africa. In 1907 he married Susan Charlotte Grosvenor; they had three sons and a daughter. After spells as a war correspondent, Lloyd George’s Director of Information and a Conservative MP, Buchan – now Sir John Buchan, Baron Tweedsmuir of Elsfield - moved to Canada in 1935 where he had been appointed Governor-General.

Despite poor health throughout his life, Buchan’s literary output was remarkable – thirty novels, over sixty non-fiction books, including biographies of Sir Walter Scott and Oliver Cromwell, and seven collections of short stories. In 1928 he won the prestigious James Tait Black Memorial Prize, Britain’s oldest literary prize for his biography of the Marquis of Montrose. Buchan’s distinctive thrillers – ‘shockers’ as he called them – were characterised by suspenseful atmosphere, conspiracy theories and romantic heroes, notably Richard Hannay (based on the real-life military spy William Ironside) and Sir Edward Leithen. Buchan was a favourite writer of Alfred Hitchcock, whose screen adaptation of The Thirty-Nine Steps was phenomenally successful.

John Buchan served as Governor-General of Canada until his death in 1940, the year his autobiography Memory Hold-the-door was published. His last novel Sick Heart River was published posthumously in 1941.

Featured Books, with extracts, by John Buchan

The Thirty-nine Steps by John Buchan
The Thirty-nine Steps
John Buchan
A classic and hugely influential thriller and featuring possibly the most exciting and famous chase in fiction. It's also one of the most filmed, most adapted and best-loved spy thrillers in history. May 1914, Richard Hannay is asked for help...
Format: Paperback - Released: 01/06/2011
Greenmantle by John Buchan
John Buchan
Richard Hannay sets off an a hair-raising journey through German-occupied Europe to meet his old friend, Sandy Arbuthnot in Constantinople. They struggle to subvert German espionage attempts in the Middle East and halt the further spread of pro-German sympathy in...
Format: Paperback - Released: 01/06/2011
Mr Standfast by John Buchan
Mr Standfast
John Buchan
Bringing his firsthand knowledge of trench warfare and government subterfuge into play, John Buchan has created a cracking, classic thriller. Set during the First World War it illuminates brilliantly the experience of war both on the battle front and on...
Format: Paperback - Released: 29/06/2010
The Island of Sheep by John Buchan
The Island of Sheep
John Buchan
This is the fifth and last Richard Hannay novel but was written and published a decade after the fourth Hannay adventure The Three Hostages just a year or two prior to the start of World War Two. It is often...
Format: Paperback - Released: 29/06/2010
The Three Hostages by John Buchan
The Three Hostages
John Buchan
This is the fourth of the five Richard Hannay novels and in it all of Buchan's strengths and weaknesses are on show. His use of motifs are most definitely his strengths and in this one, as in Greenmantle it is...
Format: Paperback - Released: 29/06/2010
Prester John by John Buchan
Prester John
John Buchan
Prester John is Buchan's first adventure story and is comparable in style and pace to Rider Haggard and Robert Louis Stevenson. Set in South Africa in 1900 it has a simple but compelling story which will keep you hooked to...
Format: Paperback - Released: 13/08/2009
The Free Fishers by John Buchan
The Free Fishers
John Buchan
Set during the Napoleonic Wars, The Free Fishers is classic Buchan and his last historical novel. It's a fast-paced tale of treason, espionage and romance. You'll smile at the story and the old-fashioned dialogue at times but thoroughly enjoy the...
Format: Paperback - Released: 31/07/2009
John Burnet of Barns by John Buchan
John Burnet of Barns
John Buchan
This is John Buchan's first full-length work of fiction written towards the end of the 19th century and set in the 17th century. It's a tale of adventure in the tradition of Robert Louis Stevenson. It tells the story of...
Format: Paperback - Released: 15/08/2008
Midwinter by John Buchan
John Buchan
Regarded as one of the finest historical novels ever written, Jacobites, spies and thrilling intrigue are brought together by the master of suspense. As Bonnie Prince Charlie marches his army into England, his confidant Alastair Maclean is despatched on a...
Format: Paperback - Released: 15/08/2008
Witch Wood by John Buchan
Witch Wood
John Buchan
This was John Buchan's favourite novel and an inspiration for the young C S Lewis. It's a terrifying portrait of a cruel and intolerant age set against the backdrop of the Covenanting time. Its main character David Semphill must...
Format: Paperback - Released: 15/08/2008
The Blanket of the Dark by John Buchan
The Blanket of the Dark
John Buchan
In the hands of a master thriller writer, the dark, dangerous days of Tudor England come alive as never before. An anonymous young man's life is about to be changed, as could the course of history. It's 1536 and powerful...
Format: Paperback - Released: 15/08/2008
John MacNab by John Buchan
John MacNab
John Buchan
From the Introduction by Andrew Greig* in John MacNab: John MacNab is the sunniest of Buchan's fictions, as Sick Heart River is the most dark and deeply felt. Both take Sir Edward Leithen as the central character, the...
Format: Paperback - Released: 01/07/2007
The Power-House by John Buchan
The Power-House
John Buchan
The Power House, written in 1916, is the first adventure of the classic Buchan hero, the prosperous Scots lawyer and MP Sir Edward Leithen, whose measured daily routine of 'flat, chambers, flat, club' is enlivened by the sudden disappearance of...
Format: Paperback - Released: 01/07/2007
Sick Heart River by John Buchan
Sick Heart River
John Buchan
Sick Heart River was John Buchan's most powerful novel, completed just days before his death in Canada and published posthumously in 1941. The rich, authentic descriptions of the rugged Canadian landscape were influenced by a voyage down the Mackenzie River...
Format: Paperback - Released: 01/07/2007
The Dancing Floor by John Buchan
The Dancing Floor
John Buchan
'The Dancing Floor is one of Buchan's most unusual and surprising tales. it's a love story, a dramatic thriller and a tale of the clash between paganism and christiantity. Young Englishwoman Kore Arabin has inherited a remote Greek island Plakos...
Format: Paperback - Released: 01/07/2007

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