Buchan, John, 1875-1940

Alternative names
Birth 1875-08-26
Death 1940-02-11

Biographical notes:

John Buchan, Baron Tweedsmuir, was a Scottish diplomat, barrister, journalist, historian, poet and novelist.

From the description of Letter from John Buchan to Joseph Harrington O'Brien, 1890-1941, 1921, Nov. 8. (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 228769757

English author and statesman, author of The Thirty-Nine Steps; 1st baron Tweedsmuir.

From the description of Typed letters signed (4) : Elsfield Manor, Oxford, and Government House, Ottawa, to Edward Wagenknecht, 1933-1938. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270868247

1901 called to the bar, Middle Temple; 1901-1903 private secretary to the high commissioner for South Africa; 1903 returned to the bar; 1916-1917 on the headquarters staff of the British army in France; 1917-1918 director of information under the prime minister; 1927-1935 Member of Parliament for the Scottish Universities; 1933-1934 lord high commissioner to the Church of Scotland; 1935-1940 governor-general of Canada.

Epithet: author, historian and Governor-General of Canada

Title: 1st Baron Tweedsmuir

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000001296.0x000221

John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir, was born in Scotland in 1875. Displaying literary talent at an early age, he won a scholarship to Oxford where he graduated with a First Class in Humane Letters in 1899. He was called to the Bar in 1901, but soon left his legal practice to serve as a private secretary under Lord Milner in South Africa during the Boer War.

Buchan returned to his legal career in 1903. By 1907 he again gravitated to a more congenial vocation, this time as a partial partner of, and editor for, Thomas Nelson and Sons Publishers . His prolific writing in his early period tended toward romantic adventure stories, novels, and some poetry. Buchan is perhaps best known for his 1915 novel Thirty-nine steps, later made into a movie by Alfred Hitchcock (1935).

World War I brought Buchan a commission in Intelligence. Later in the conflict he showed marked administrative ability while serving at the British Department of Information. His writing now took a more historical turn. In addition to his multi-volume history of the war, his fiction also reflected his wartime experiences. He also moved into biography, successfully treating such diverse subjects as Julius Caesar, Cromwell, Sir Walter Scott, and the Marquis of Montrose.

In 1927 he was elected to Parliament as Conservative member for the Scottish universities. Eight years later came elevation to the peerage and appointment as Governor General of Canada. A popular and active Governor General, he still found some time for writing in the nonfiction vein. Buchan died in 1940.

From the guide to the John Buchan papers, Buchan (John) papers, 1898-1958, (John Hay Library Special Collections)


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  • Publishers and Publishing
  • Authors, Scottish 20th century Correspondence
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  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • Gilgit, Kashmir (as recorded)
  • South Africa, Africa (as recorded)
  • Chitral State, India (as recorded)
  • Mount Everest, Tibet (as recorded)
  • Leven District, Fifeshire (as recorded)
  • Afghanistan, Asia (as recorded)
  • South Africa, Africa (as recorded)
  • Paris, France (as recorded)
  • Ireland, Europe (as recorded)
  • Canada, North America (as recorded)
  • Stirling, Scotland (as recorded)
  • Gobi Desert, China (as recorded)
  • Manchuria, China (as recorded)
  • Bhutan, Asia (as recorded)
  • Chesterfield House, London (as recorded)
  • Central Asia, Asia (as recorded)
  • North-West Frontier, India (as recorded)
  • Tibet, Asia (as recorded)
  • Turkestan, Asia (as recorded)
  • Rhodesia, Africa (as recorded)
  • Australia, Australia (as recorded)
  • Pamir, India (as recorded)
  • Gulmarg, Kashmir (as recorded)
  • United States, North America (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Strait of Lepanto, Greece (as recorded)
  • Abu, Rajputana (as recorded)
  • China, Asia (as recorded)
  • Tonk State, India (as recorded)
  • Switzerland, Europe (as recorded)
  • Europe (as recorded)
  • Hunza, Kashmir (as recorded)
  • Ireland, Europe (as recorded)
  • Indore State, India (as recorded)
  • Russia, Europe, Asia (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • Australia, Australia (as recorded)
  • London, England (as recorded)
  • Himalaya Mountains, Tibet (as recorded)
  • Mustagh Pass, Kashmir (as recorded)
  • Srinagar, Kashmir (as recorded)
  • Bundi State, India (as recorded)
  • Colworth House, Bedford (as recorded)