John Buchan: The Thirty-Nine Steps

(2880 words)

The Thirty-Nine Steps is Buchan’s most famous novel, and is the single Buchan title most likely to be reissued by publishers. In popular terms it defines his writing. Most discussion of Buchan the writer starts and stops with The Thirty-Nine Steps, and moves swiftly on to talk about the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film which was based on the book. What is rarely realised is that this short thriller was Buchan’s seventeenth published work. It was not the work of a beginner, and it is completely different from anything he had published before.

Buchan began writing The Thirty-Nine Steps in August 1914 while he and his daughter were recovering from illness. They were staying at a house in Broadstairs, …

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Macdonald, Kate. "The Thirty-Nine Steps". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 24 August 2007
[, accessed 30 June 2015.]

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