8 thoughts on “Ursula Buchan, Beyond The Thirty-Nine Steps

  1. What a compliment to have your idea pinched for the title, Kate! I am interested in this book, if only to obtain from the library, partly because of your own Novelists Against Social Change – I already know plenty about Dornford Yates and Angela Thirkell but not John Buchan – and partly to learn a bit more about Susan Lady Tweedsmuir who if I remember correctly wrote a foreword to Susannah of the Mounties. (My copy fell apart many years ago.) Perhaps she wished she had written it herself, given its immense loyalty to Queen Victoria as well as to the RCMP. It sounds as if being John Buchan’s wife was a tough career option.


  2. I am really looking forward to this (though it doesn’t come out until July here in Canada). Your knowledge of and enthusiasm for Buchan has certainly increased my interest in him over the last few years and Ursula Buchan is a favourite of mine for her garden writing already. And, having just read Cousin Harriet, I’m intrigued to learn more about Lady Tweedsmuir as well!


  3. A very good review, Kate. I was given this book recently, not previously having been aware of it and I started reading it yesterday. Already I can tell that it is going to be an engrossing read. Ursula Buchan is the perfect biographer for JB combing well developed journalistic skills with previously unavailable access to family documents and family memories. Her cool investigative approach and willingness not to draw a curtain across JB’s faults is very welcome.

    I have happy memories of the excellent Caledonian Lecture on JB that you delivered at the Caledonian Club a few years ago and very much enjoyed “Novelists Against Social Change”. Hope you are staying well during this difficult time.



  4. I am presently reading the first part of this biography of John Buchan and am dismayed by the inaccuracies and misperceptions in relation to Scotland. Some examples – Mary Queen of Scots did not lose hope of winning the Crown at the Battle of Langside – she had been acknowledged queen of Scotland since the death of her father, James V, in 1542 and had reigned in Scotland since 1561. Nor did she lose her liberty at Langside. That happened when she crossed into England. Hutchesons’ Grammar School was as well-known as Glasgow Academy or Glasgow High and was regarded as the outstanding academic institution among the secondary schools. There was no MA course as such at Glasgow University – students chose their subjects from a wide range of possibilities. The Tweedies were not one of the warring Border families (Kerrs, Armstrongs, Humes and Elliotts were examples) as the Tweedies’ connection was with Lanarkshire. As for Gaelic – It is Buachaille Etive Mor not Mhor (it’s a popular climb) and the dog’s name (Domhnall Dubh) was ‘Black Donald’ as the Gaelic adjective follows the noun. These may seem trivial corrections but they (and others) are irritating to a Scot proud of a fellow-Scotsman; and they could have been checked without difficulty.


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