Monday, October 19, 2015

10/19/1915 Buchan climbs the 39 Steps

October 19, 1915.  On this date John Buchan's first novel was published.  The Thirty-nine Steps was an immediate hit, selling 25,000 copies by the end of the year.  It tells the story of Richard Hannay, a South African visiting London who gets caught up in an espionage ring.

Jason Worden argued that Buchan actually invented a new subgenre: the story in which a civilian gets chased both by the bad guys, and by the police who think he is the bad guy.  That paranoia made it perfect for Alfred Hitchcock, who not only filmed The Thirty-nine Steps, but used a similar plot in two other movies.

Buchan wrote many more novels, including four about the plucky Richard Hannay.  He also served as Governor General of Canada, not bad for a thriller writer.

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