Who's Who

John Buchan Society

Richard Cavendish on an association dedicated to the MP, publisher, soldier, Christian and governor-general of Canada

John Buchan's remarkable career carried him from the obscurity of a Scottish manse to fame and fortune as a bestselling author and on eventually to a barony and the governor-generalship of Canada. On the way he became a country gentleman with a manor house at Elsfield outside Oxford, a Conservative MP, a Companion of Honour and a Privy Councillor. He also made his mark as a publisher, soldier and mountaineer. He was a strong Christian, countryman and fisherman, for whom The Pilgrim's Progress, the catechism and The Compleat Angler were well-loved companions. He moved familiarly among the great and but for illness and the Second World War he might have ended up as Viceroy of India.

Members of the John Buchan Society particularly admire the many-sidedness of the man, the breadth of his talents and the fact that he made his way from humble beginnings. In 1979 a 'John Buchan Day' was organised at Edinburgh University, and the Society grew out of the occasion. It was founded partly in reaction to blinkered criticisms of Buchan's supposedly racist attitudes. The prime mover was Eileen Stewart, a Scottish teacher who admired Buchan as 'a frontiersman', a man 'most keenly himself when on the razor-edge of life'. Mrs Stewart edited the John Buchan Journal until retiring in 1990.

Since its early days the Society has broadened its appeal beyond Scotland. and to a younger generation. It now has 345 members. The Buchan family are active supporters. Intriguingly the leading members include a Me R. Hannay (but no, his first name is Ronald).

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