Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Man and His Books

Thanks are due Elizabeth Foxwell for reminding us that today would have been the 131st birthday of Scottish thriller writer and politician John Buchan, aka the 1st Baron Tweedsmuir. As Foxwell explains in her blog, The Bunburyist,
Buchan worked for British intelligence during WWI; served as a member of Parliament; and wrote historical fiction, criticism, poetry, history, and biography. But it is probably for his novel The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915), in which mining engineer Richard Hannay becomes embroiled in espionage, that he is best known because of the Alfred Hitchcock film of 1935 starring Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll (don’t we all remember the chill we felt when Mr. Bad Guy holds up his hand, and we see along with Hannay that he is missing part of a finger).
Buchan penned four more Richard Hannay spy thrillers, among them Greenmantle (1916), during and after the “Great War,” but he also wrote biographies of Sir Walter Raleigh, Oliver Cromwell, and Caesar Augustus. In 1935 he was created as Baron Tweedsmuir and dispatched to Canada as the commonwealth’s new Governor General, representing British King George V. A year later, he founded the Governor General’s Awards, which still rank among Canada’s foremost literary commendations. After suffering a stroke while shaving, Buchan/Tweedsmuir died in 1940, just 10 days before his term as Governor General was to have ended.

READ MORE:The Thirty-Nine Steps, by John Buchan,” by J. Kingston Pierce (Killer Covers).

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