John Buchan on my Scottish bookshelf

It is now 70 years since the death of John Buchan in Canada in 1940 and he remains a popular figure courtesy of regular adaptations in various media and some handsome reprints of his books.The Thirty Nine Steps is the most famous title, but there are many others worth exploring.


Huntingtower is the 1922 novel which introduces the retired Glasgow grocer Dickson McCunn and the alternative boy scouts pack known as the “Gorbals Die Hards”. Huntingtower tells of Mr McCunn’s Spring walking holiday somewhere in South-West Scotland while his wife is enjoying herself in a Hydro and how he finds himself embroiled with a poet, an imprisoned princess, and some Bolsheviks. Buchan conjures up a world where any traveller might knock on the door of a white-washed cottage and be sure of a warm welcome – and any local solicitor might be in the pay of the communists.

Huntingtower was the first Buchan novel to be filmed, and though the feature is now lost, we still have historic footage at the Scottish Screen Archive of its famous star Sir Harry Lauder (pictured) attending the premiere in Glasgow.