HE was the Scottish writer of spy adventures and international intrigue.
Now the wartime propaganda work of John Buchan, creator of The Thirty Nine Steps, can be shown in a new light by a major new exhibition at the museum dedicated to his work.
Buchan, as well as being a world famous writer, directed wartime information for the government in the First World War, and a new study of his propaganda career shows how the writer worked in a atmosphere of intrigue and turmoil.
The new exhibition, at the John Buchan Story Museum in Peebles, delves into the work of Buchan, born in Perth in 1875, when he was Director of Information.
The show, compiled by Emma Small, a history graduate of the University of Sunderland, traces his work from 1916 to 1919 and shows how his position influenced his novel Mr Standfast, which was published in 1919.
The museum’s work was hindered by the “thorough” way Buchan destroyed nearly all his paperwork from his time at the Government.
Dr Peter Worthington, chair of the John Buchan Story, said the research showed that Buchan’s time as director was marred by opposition from the Daily Chronicle, a newspaper of the time and the ambitions of Sir Robert Donald, its editor.
The Chronicle ran from 1872 to 1930, and Sir Robert was on the advisory committee of the Department of Information, and made Buchan’s life difficult with his scheming for position.
Dr Worthington added: “What intrigued us was the very difficult relationship Buchan had with the Chronicle, and that its editor essentially wanted to do Buchan’s job.”
Buchan, he said, “never got on with Lloyd George”.
David Lloyd George, the British Prime Minister, who was a friend for a time with Donald, went on to buy the Chronicle.
“I think a lot of people of course known Buchan for his writing, but this exhibition casts a new light on his work in the war years,” he added.
“Without Emma’s contribution the current exhibition would not have been possible.