Forever associated with the classic thriller The Thirty-Nine Steps, Buchan wrote over a hundred books, including a series of ‘shockers’ as he called them, children’s books and tales of the supernatural. He also wrote biographies and was the author of what many regard as the finest history ever written of the Great War.
A man of formidable energy, he had a distinguished career in public life. He ran the Ministry of Information during the First World War, and after eight years as a Conservative MP he ended his career as Lord Tweedsmuir, Governor-General of Canada.
In this, the first biography for thirty years, Andrew Lownie has been able to draw on private papers not used before, which have enabled him to paint a compelling picture of Buchan’s life, and a panoramic view of British political, social and literary circles during the first half of the twentieth century.
‘Admirably readable, this book will be invaluable to those who are now encountering Buchan’s work for the first time. Lownie’s lucid account of Buchan’s life redefines the man as infinitely more complex than he thought he was.’
The Sunday Times
‘This formidably detailed study is a labour of love by a devoted Buchanite, a nuanced understanding of a figure who, for too long, has been regarded as an extension of his fictional heroes.’
‘Trumpets should now sound for Buchan; and I will sound one of my own for Andrew Lownie, who has brought this most extraordinary man to life in a way no previous writer has.’
‘This exemplary biography, full of new insights and fresh documents unearthed and published for the first time, makes fascinating reading.’
Robert Carver, Scotsman
‘Andrew Lownie offers a solid and convincing portrait of a complex man and controls the innumerable aspects of Buchan’s life in an exemplary manner.’
Times Literary Supplement
‘The book’s strongest asset is its literary criticism. He is meticulous in exploring Buchan’s non-fiction and poetry, as well as his novels, and a master at teasing out the themes that make Buchan’s work so popular.’
Independent on Sunday
‘Lownie's study is equally well argued and written with an evident, though at times exasperated, fondness for his subject.’
Scotland on Sunday
‘He has been the subject of previous biographies, but Andrew Lownie's is a welcome addition... Mr Lownie has done him proud.’
‘Andrew Lownie's new life of him, though by no means hagiographic, should contribute to the Buchan revival...’
‘Andrew Lownie's John Buchan tells a different story. It is neither hostile nor debunking, but shows warts absent from the Adam Smith version.’
The Daily Telegraph
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ANDREW LOWNIE was educated at Fettes, Westminster, Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he was Dunster History Prizeman and President of the Union, and at Edinburgh University. He has been a journalist contributing to The Times and The Spectator and has worked in publishing. A past Council Member of the Buchan Society, he has written introductions to several Buchan novels and has edited a collection of Buchan’s poetry.From Publishers Weekly:
Best known to American readers as the author of The Thirty-Nine Steps, Greenmantle and other "shockers," as Buchan referred to them, John Buchan's protean life and work encompassed a great diversity of accomplishments. In a detailed, well-balanced and well-documented work, Lownie, who has edited collections of Buchan's poems and stories, examines his subject's successes and failures as well as the shifting tides of critical opinion that have buffeted or burnished his reputation. Buchan's 65 years (1875-1940) were crowded with achievements. He attended Glasgow University and Oxford and was chancellor of Edinburgh University. His literary roles included war correspondent, various positions with Nelson Publishing Co. and deputy chairman of Reuters News Agency. His distinguished record of public service included various posts in South Africa, WWI director of information, MP for the Scottish Universities and governor-general of Canada. In addition to his works of fiction, Buchan wrote and published essays, poetry, biographies and histories, and he edited numerous other works. And yet somehow Buchan never seemed to grab the grand prize expected of him. Lownie argues quite convincingly that Buchan had too many talents pulling him in various directions-torn between romantic and practical impulses-and that ill health compounded his difficulties. He also felt himself to be always the outsider: "regarded as a Scotsman in England and an Englishman in Scotland." Regardless of successes or failures, Buchan had, and continues to have, a shaping influence on espionage fiction, with his books still being read and adapted for radio, television and film. Illus.
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Book Description Constable, 1995. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110094725004