The John Buchan Story

Peebles, Scottish Borders

Category: News (page 1 of 2)

John Buchan Prize at Sunderland University – Class of 2018: from Trauma to Triumph – November 2018


Class of 2018: from trauma to triumph

My attackers made me a victim for the 20 minutes they beat me – they weren’t going to make me a victim for the rest of my life

Anthony Anderson had a love of English for as long as he could remember, but it was only after a horrific attack in his own home that he found the strength to pursue his passion for the written word.

That passion has now led him the stage of the Stadium of Light today to collect his English Master’s Degree and pick up the John Buchan Prize for the Best Dissertation by an MA English Student at the University of Sunderland.  

His lecturers selected his work for the prestigious annual prize for its “exceptional standard” and described him an “incredibly resilient individual and a “real life-changer”.

The attack happened in 2010 when the 36-year-old answered a call at the front door of his flat only to be punched in the face by a man armed with a hammer, this was followed by another four men who dragged him inside, tied him to a chair and beat him for the next 20 minutes as they ransacked his home in Washington.

They broke every bone in his face, and it was only emergency surgery which saved him from being deformed for the rest of his life.

The men were never caught, and it took Anthony a year to recover from his injuries. He endured months of surgery to rebuild the structure of his face with titanium plates and it was six months before he could eat properly with his weight dropping to just eight stone, in his words, he says: “It was a pretty rough time for me”.

Despite the ordeal and having been made redundant from his managerial role with a national bingo and casino chain, it was while he lay recovering, he thought about how to could take his life forward.

“The attack was a traumatic experience to say the least, and the pain after surgery was at times excruciating. I’m well aware the others may have dealt with it differently, but I had a great network of family and friends around me, who helped me focus. The attackers made me a victim for 20 minutes, but they weren’t going to do it for the rest of my life, that’s for sure.”

His love of English and creative writing had never wavered since his school days, but he admits he made the “wrong” choices in his early days from giving up a place at London’s School of Music to completing a History BA degree, before working full-time for 10 years.

He decided he would finally take the plunge back into higher education and completed an English and Creative Writing Course with the Open University, all while working full-time.

He loved the course and was inspired to take his career further by signing up for the Master’s degree at Sunderland, but his confidence of returning to the classroom after such a long time made him apprehensive. However, he says: “If you’re going to do something, time is of the essence, you literally never know what’s going to be around the corner, it’s what I say to the younger students now. Life has a habit of interfering with the best laid plans so I’m of the mindset now – you just go ahead and do it.”

Despite that early wobble, Anthony found university life and his fellow students of all ages and backgrounds, inspiring, and his grades continued to rise.

He also managed to overcome a collapsed lung half way through his term and had to take a month off to recover. Despite the setback he still managed to achieve an 85 per cent grading for his dissertation, based on culturally traumatic events that indelibly marked society from the Holocaust and Slavery right up to the modern #MeToo movement and how Gothic Science Fiction confronts the patriarchal issues in our society.

The work was selected for the John Buchan Prize. John Buchan was a novelist, historian, journalist, politician, soldier and public servant, and is best known for this influential espionage novel, The Thirty-Nine Steps.

Anthony was presented with his award at the University’s Winter Graduation Ceremonies by John Buchan’s granddaughter, Laura Crackanthorpe.

Anthony Anderson with Vice Chancellor, Sir David Bell

Anthony said: “When I started this journey, I never expected to be winning any awards, and this was the first time I’d written a piece like this. So, it was a complete shock when I was told I’d won because John Buchan is legendary, so it’s a huge honour.”

Dr Alison Younger, Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Sunderland, said: “Anthony thoroughly deserves this award; his work was exceptional, and he was a joy to teach. We were so impressed with his resilience, given all he’s been through, he’s a real life-changer.”

Long term, Anthony, from Washington, wants to eventually teach his beloved English subject, and will begin his PhD next February at Sunderland.

He says: “Studying the Masters made me realise how much I love the research side. Being in this environment you hear about new ideas all the time and it’s exciting. The academics are at the top of their game and it has benefited me from working with people like Alison and Dr Colin Younger, who give you this confidence to go out and do your own work, not just to recycle arguments you’ve heard before, but think about what you want to say. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”

The University of Sunderland’s School of Culture has been working closely with the John Buchan Society and John Buchan Story Museum on a number of collaborative projects.  These have included the digitisation of the Society’s Journal and the redevelopment of the Museum’s website.  For 2018 the Museum, in Peebles, Scotland, helped create a centenary exhibition on John Buchan, as Minister of Information in the final year of World War One.

Steve Watts, Head of the School of Culture, added: “I am delighted with the close collaboration that has been developed with the John Buchan Society and the John Buchan Story Museum.  The University has been working on several projects with the Society and Museum to support them in their aim of making their Journal and artefacts available on-line and accessible to everybody.   

“We would like to join Laura in congratulating Anthony, a truly deserving winner of this year’s John Buchan Prize.”

John Buchan

John Buchan (1875-1940) was born in Perth, Scotland. As well as popular fiction, Buchan was also an historian, diplomat and politician. He was Minister of Information from 1917, was elected to Parliament in 1927, and was appointed Governor General of Canada in 1935, where he died, before his ashes were returned to the UK.

John Buchan’s most famous work, The Thirty Nine Steps, was first published in 1915, and was an instant success, particularly among soliders in the trenches during World War One. The book has been adapted for film, TV, radio, stage and even as a computer game, and has never been out of print.

In 1935 he was given the honour of the First Baron of Tweedsmuir. Tweedsmuir Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada, was named in his honour.

News from Peter Thackeray, Crask Books – Remembering the First World War

Now that the commemoration of the centenary of the Armistice has passed I thought it might be the time to offer a selection of books which either give an account of some aspect of the war or offer a fictional story based upon the war.

You will see that the attached list offers a wide range from brief remembrances of close friends killed in the war to a sweeping, detailed history of the entire war. Many of the books are by or have links to John Buchan but others have no connection with him. There are also books across a wide range of prices.

To order simply contact me and tell me what you are interested in and I will then quote a total cost including postage. Orders will be taken on a strictly first come, first served basis.

Many of you will be aware that I donate 5% of gross profits to the Trust which runs the John Buchan Story in Peebles. However, for any books sold as a result of this mailing that donation will be split equally between the John Buchan Story and the Haig Fund.

For a full list of the World War 1 books please click on the link below.

World War I related books

Crask Books – Latest News from Peter Thackeray! – 3 November 2018

This is the time of year when I usually produce a catalogue. Although I have produced one I am sending it out electronically this year as the costs of printing and distribution have become prohibitive. A small number are being sent out by post to those who do not have internet access and if you specifically want a printed copy please ask and I will send you one. Details of how to order are in the catalogue.

Over the past 12-18 months the John Buchan Story in Peebles have had a substantial number of books donated. Some of these are sold at the Museum but others are sold through me. Whereas 5% of the profits on sales of all books go to the Museum, the arrangement with these books is that 80% goes to the Museum. As well as my usual catalogue I have prepared a catalogue of books for sale on their behalf and this is also attached. Please note that printed versions of this are not available.

I have recently taken a substantial number of books into stock and I am cataloguing these as quickly as I can. Details will be sent out as soon as possible.

Payment can be made by sterling cheque, bank transfer or PayPal. All prices exclude shipping/postage costs; these will be quoted to you when your order is confirmed.As always the price excludes shipping and you can order by email, telephone or post and orders are dealt with strictly on a first come, first served basis.


Peter Thackeray
Crask Books

Telephone: +44(0)7947 733860

2018 catalogue

Special Openings for the Armistice – 10 November 2018

The Museum will open:


After the children’s parade in Peebles on Saturday the 10th

NOW IN THE MUSEUM! – JB’s Blackfoot Hide Cloak & Gauntlets

The Blackfoot hide cloak and gauntlets were presented to John Buchan, Governor General of Canada by Chief Shot-both-Sides.

The cape is possibly made of deer hide, decorated with fringing and appliquèd satin ribbons with embroidered medallions in the centre and corners.

The gauntlets are hide with glass beadwork floral motifs and a paler hide fringing. They are lined with a quilted satin.

Visit the John Buchan Story museum and see it for real!

2018 Winners of the Runagates Club – 27 August 2018


This year’s Runagates Club draw took place on the 27 August – the day after Buchan’s birthday! – in the museum just before Ian Buckingham (Chairman of the Museum Trust) began his talk “John Buchan and the First Nations of Canada”. The photo shows our Treasurer, Peter Macnab, drawing the winning number, 32. The lucky winner with a prize of £390 was William (Bill) Galbraith from Canada. The second prize of £117 (=3x£39) was won by Tom Steele from Peebles with the lucky number of 13.

For further details of the Club please go to the Runagates Club page on this site.


Something to look forward to! – Update 11 January 2018

Ursula Buchan read Modern History at Cambridge and was for many years a gardening journalist and author, but has recently turned more to social history, with a study of gardening in the Second World War. She has written 17 books so far. She is a daughter of John Buchan’s second son, William.

It’s been more than twenty years since the last full-length biography of John Buchan was published, so it’s good to know that another one is on the way. Ursula Buchan is at present engaged on writing a ‘life’ of her grandfather, to be published by Bloomsbury Publishing in late 2018, all being well. Ursula is very grateful that she’s been able to study the archives and photographs held in the Museum in Peebles, amongst many other places. Last year, she spent several weeks in Canada, doing research in the archives held by Queen’s University, and visiting the places where John Buchan and his wife, Susan, lived when he was Governor-General. She hopes to finish the book by the end of the year. When asked, she said it was the most fascinating project that she had ever attempted.

We are delighted to hear that Ursula Buchan is busy with her pen! We will keep you posted on her progress! And the latest news for 2018 is that the manuscript will shortly be sent tp the publishers – progress indeed!


News! The publication date for Ursula’s book is March 2019!

Winners of the Broughton Horticultural Society John Buchan Handwriting Competition – 25 August 2018

We are delighted to announce the winners of the John Buchan Handwriting Competition for 2018. The entries were judged at the Broughton Horticultural Society Show on the 25th August. The task was to copy – in best handwriting – an extract from Buchan’s novel “Prester John”.

The winner of the 8 to 9 year olds (Class 150) was Lauren Smith  and of the 10 to 12 year olds (Class 151) was Charlotte Green – they each received the Buchan Memorial Prize.

Second prizes went to Chloe taylor and Struan McKenzie

Third prizes went to James Stewart and Alexander Millar

Congratulations to all the prize winners from all at the John Buchan Story museum!

The winning entries are on display in the John Buchan Story museum, Peebles.



ITV Award for the Watch Border Life 2017 programme on the John Buchan Museum – 9 June 2018

On the 9th June 2018, the John Buchan episode took the Bronze award for the Watch Border Life feature programme 2017 at the ITV one awards

To watch the programme please click on the following link:

Irene Macdougall gives voice to the missing female characters of The 39 Steps – Neil Cooper, Theatre critic, The Herald, 7 June 2018

“The Thirty-Nine Steps” takes to stage again! This article appeared in the Herald on the 7 June 2018.!


Irene Macdougall gives voice to the missing female characters of The 39 Steps


Or read the article on The Herald’s web site:

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