Last year marked the centenary of the first book publication of John Buchan’s classic thriller. I blogged on the book itself on March 19th 2015 in celebration. But I want to recommend to you a quite excellent book about the background and genesis of The Thirty Nine Steps, which I’ve really enjoyed reading.
The title is John Buchan and The Thirty-Nine Steps – An Exploration by John Burnett and Kate Mackay, published by National Museums Scotland.
If you enjoy reading Buchan as much as I do, you’ll love this book. The authors begin with a brief biography of Buchan himself, before examining the thriller in considerable detail, looking at the book’s origins, describing the events within chapter by chapter – there are spoilers here, so I would recommend that you read the thriller first if it’s new to you.
If you’ve ever thought of writing your own thriller you’ll find this book quite inspirational; it takes you on a journey across the Galloway and Borders landscape through which Buchan’s hero Richard Hannay escapes his enemies, look at the characters of the various Scots he meets on the way, takes an in-depth look at the way disguise is used in the novel, and investigates pre-Great War espionage and its links with the chase thriller.
There are a number of nods in the direction of other Buchan thrillers as well, so the devotee of his work will find much of value here.
John Buchan is only now getting the reputation he deserves as an important writer of Scottish fiction. It is good to see the appearance of books like this which examine his work with such readable scholarship.
To order a copy please click on the link below: