The Buchan Tradition



A century after its first print run, the famous novel The 39 Steps continues to sell worldwide. It's never been out of print.

The book's author, John Buchan, wasn't just a master of the suspense thriller, he also wrote poetry, short stories, essays, biographies and histories - all on top of his ambitious career as editor, publisher, intelligence officer, civil servant, politician, churchman, peer and, at the end of his life, Governor-General of Canada.

The writer Nicholas Rankin examines Buchan's literary legacy through the lens of two of his descendants who have themselves become authors - James Buchan is one of John's grandsons, a former FT Middle East correspondent who now writes both fiction and non-fiction; while Ursula Buchan, a granddaughter of John Buchan, is a distinguished gardening journalist and social historian.

With additional contributions from best selling novelist William Boyd and literary critic Kate MacDonald, James and Ursula reflect in a personal way on the influence John Buchan has had on their own writing and the significance of his books today.

Producer: Dan Shepherd

A Far Shoreline production for BBC Radio 4.