Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan

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Product Details

Bloomsbury Publishing
Publish Date
6.2 X 1.9 X 9.3 inches | 2.05 pounds
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About the Author

Ursula Buchan studied modern history at New Hall, Cambridge, and horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. She is an award-winning journalist and author, having written eighteen books and contributed regularly to the Spectator, Observer, Independent, Sunday Telegraph, Daily Telegraph and The Garden. She is a daughter of John Buchan's second son, William.


"John Buchan was a writer of considerable significance but he was also a man who led a remarkable public life. This magnificent biography leads us through that life with great style and understanding" --Alexander McCall Smith

"[An] outstanding biography ... Though factual, it reads like a big, rambling Victorian novel, and takes you, as novels do, into other people's lives" --John Cary, Sunday Times

"Page-turning, buccaneering stuff" --Laura Freeman, The Times

"Excellent ... [Ursula Buchan] gives us a strong sense of both the man and his milieu" --Allan Massie, Spectator

"Apart from Buchan's relentless work ethic, what shines forth from these pages is his generosity of spirit ... Ursula Buchan shows a similar generosity of spirit in this wonderfully fluent biography" --Justin Marozzi, Financial Times

"Drawing on recently discovered family documents, this fascinating biography grants us the fullest picture of Buchan and his public and private life that we have ever had. Perhaps it will inspire some overdue screen adaptations of the 'rollicking adventure stories' of this most visual of novelists" --Country Life

"The great strength of this book is to make Buchan not just the writer of "shockers", but a man whose influence helped change government policy ... Ursula Buchan has done an admirable piece of work ... She rightly puts his faith at the centre of the book and this lays a line towards a reimagination of Buchan" --Stuart Kelly, i

"Buchan's thrillers exploited contemporary events (and anxieties) which made them extensions of his political life. Both are integral to this excellent book in which Ursula Buchan has balanced her grandfather's public and literary achievements with his family life and internal tensions. He emerges as a thoroughly decent man and she as a brilliant biographer" --Standpoint

"[An] exemplary, diligent biography" --William Boyd, New Statesman

"Ursula Buchan has written a superb biography...[She] combines an intimate understanding of her grandfather with a scholarly reading of the immense mass of his papers in a hugely enjoyable and rewarding biography of a man of many parts and remarkable energy. A Buchan revival is certainly due" --History Today

"[Ursula Buchan's] pious ambition is to restore our awareness of JB as a far more complex and sympathetic character than received opinion has it. She does so wonderfully well. Her biography is thoroughly researched and elegantly written, and it proves beyond reasonable doubt that John Buchan was, if not one of the greatest, then certainly one of the most remarkable writers and public men of the early 20th century" --The Literary Review