The fiction of John Buchan with special reference to the Richard Hannay novels.
ta this thesis I intend to show that although by the outbreak of
the First World War John Buchan bad been a successful writer for
twenty years his career underwent a vital change after 1915 and
the success of his best-selling thriller The Thirty-line Steps.
Chapter one analyses in detail the publishing history of The
Thirty-line Steps, and the best-seller status of the early
thrillers of John Buchan. Under four sub-headings, I examine
the content of the sales figures and the readership of Buchan' s
best-sellers, using primary source material from the publishers
archives and from unpublished letters and memoirs from the First
World War. I go on to discuss the reasons for the lasting
popularity of The Thirty-line Steps. Buchan's new elements in
that novel, and examine his role in the development of the
In chapter two I look at two of Buchan's protagonists,
contrasting his new hero of The Thirty-line Steps, Richard
Hannay, with Sir Quixote of the Noors (1895) and the idea of the
stranger in the familiar land. In chapter three, I examine
Buchan's construction of narrative developing new
narratological types to define Buchan' s growing complexities of
narration in the Hannay novels.
Chapter four explores Buchan' s use of characters, the different
social worlds he developed for his three principal protagonists
- Bannay, Leitben and Dickson McCunn - and the effect of recurrence in background characters. Buchan' c identity as a
Scottish. writer i. discussed in chapter five, dealing with the
Scottish Renaissance, vernacular poetry, Iailyard and Buchan's
role as a public Scot. His fiction is examined with particular
reference to the Scottish elements of language, history and
religion. In chapter cix I look at Buchan's portrayal of the
women characters in his fiction, particularly their roles as
redeemers, spurs, and voices, counterpointing the Buchan heroes.
In the conclusion, I reiterate the importance of the 1915 change
in Buchan's writing, and how his novels were redirected towards
the thriller. I show how the advent of his new thriller hero,
liannay, was seminal in shaping the new genre. I conclude this
thesis with fourteen appendices, including a close look at
Buchan's supposed anti-Semitism. I give a new chronological
bibliography of all Buchan's fiction incorporating several
rediscovered Buchan short stories. X7 bibliographies cover
fiction, non-fiction, and manuscript sources, with separate
lists for the Buchan material.