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The thirty-nine steps
John Buchan
Adult Fiction BUCHAN

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John Buchan was born in Perth on 26th August, 1875. Educated at Glasgow University and Brasenose College, Oxford, in 1898 Buchan won the Newdigate Prize for poetry. Although trained as a lawyer, Buchan became private secretary to Lord Alfred Milner, high commissioner for South Africa. In 1903 he returned to England where he became a director of the publishing company, Thomas Nelson & Sons. In 1910 Buchan had his first novel, Prester John, published. In July 1914, Blackwood's Magazine began serializing Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps. With Britain on the verge of war, the nation was obsessed with German spy fever and its subject matter made it an immediate success. When it was published in book form, it sold over 25,000 copies in three months. Charles Masterman, the journalist, was appointed head of the government's War Propaganda Bureau. Masterman recruited Buchan and asked him to organise the publication of a history of the war in the form of a monthly magazine. Published by his own company, the first installment of the Nelson's History of the War appeared in February, 1915. A further twenty-three appeared at regular intervals throughout the war. In the spring of 1915, Buchan agreed to become one of the five journalists attached to the British Army. He was given responsibility for providing articles for The Times and the Daily News. In June 1916, Buchan was recruited by the British Army to draft communiqués for Sir Douglas Haig and other members of the General Headquarters Staff. Given the rank of Second Lieutenant in the Intelligence Corps, Buchan was also provided with the documents needed to write the Nelson's History of the War. Buchan's History of the War provided the public with a completely false impression of what was going on the Western Front. Buchan also wrote a series of propoganda pamphlets published by Oxford University Press. In February, 1917, the government established a Department of Information. Given the rank Lieutenant Colonel, Buchan was put in charge on the department on an annual salary of £1,000 a year. After the war Buchan continued to write adventures stories such as Huntingtower, The Three Hostages, and Witch Wood (1927). He also became involved in politics and in 1927 was elected Conservative MP for the Scottish Universities. Buchan held the seat until granted the title Baron Tweedsmuir in 1935. Buchan was president of the Scottish History Society from 1929 to 1932, and wrote biographies of Montrose and Sir Walter Scott. Buchan also served as governor-general of Canada from 1935 to 1937 and chancellor of Edinburgh University from 1937 to 1940. John Buchan died on 12th February, 1940. (Bowker Author Biography)

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