Sam Leith Sam Leith

Books Podcast: Ursula Buchan on her grandfather, John Buchan

In this week’s books podcast, I’m joined by Ursula Buchan – the author of a hugely involving new life of her late grandfather John Buchan. The book is called Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps (you can read Allan Massie’s enthusiastic Spectator review of it here), and it does as the title promises. Buchan (or ‘JB’ to his family) is known, if he’s known now at all, as the author of the pre-war thriller The Thirty-Nine Steps, later filmed by Hitchcock. Yet here was a man of staggering range and energy – diplomat, historian, politician, propagandist, poet, barrister, publisher, and (most important of all) one-time assistant editor of The Spectator. He was a proud Scot who lived most of his life out of Scotland, and whose travels took him from Boer South Africa to the Governor-General’s mansion in Canada. Here’s John Buchan in the round – and a granddaughter talking about how and why she sought to make his memory her own.

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