Spectator Books: Ursula Buchan on her grandfather, John Buchan

May 15, 2019, 10:15 AM

In this week's books podcast, Sam is 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.    

Presented by Sam Leith.

Spectator Books is a series of literary interviews and discussions on the latest releases in the world of publishing, from poetry through to physics. Presented by Sam Leith, The Spectator's Literary Editor. Hear past episodes of Spectator Books here.