John Buchan (1875-1940), the son of a Free Church minister, was born in Perth, but later the family moved to the Gorbals. He was educated at Hutchesons' Grammar School and the Universities of Glasgow and Oxford. He began to write as a student contributing several articles to the Glasgow University Magazine (GUM). In many of his novels he drew on the experiences of his early years in Glasgow and his holidays in the beautiful Galloway countryside. His three books centred on the unlikely hero, Dickson McCunn, a retired Glasgow provision merchant. The members of a Glasgow gang of little boys, the Gorbals Diehards led by the red-headed Dougal, aptly capture the two contrasting sides of the city in the late nineteenth century. Mr Standfast explores the conflicting emotions of the labour unrest on Clydeside during the First World War. He is perhaps best remembered for The Thirty Nine Steps and Prester John. He also gained a reputation as a biographer.
He was private secretary to Lord Milner in South Africa from 1901 to 1903 and on his return became literary adviser to Thomas Nelson, the Edinburgh publisher. He served as an intelligence officer during the First World War and wrote the official history of the conflict. He was Conservative MP for the Scottish Universities from 1927 to 1934. He was created Baron Tweedsmuir in 1935 and served as Governor General of Canada from then until his death. Throughout his prolific life, he was troubled by poor health and was often in pain.
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