Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Peebles, Books and The John Buchan Story

Road to the Borders

We had a great day out in Peebles, a Royal Burgh since 1152, in the Scottish Borders at the weekend. It was just long enough to do it in one day before driving back home, but we're planning to make a longer visit to explore the other Border towns later in the year.

River Tweed

Peebles is a lovely friendly town on the River Tweed, with smaller interesting shops along the High Street. Down one side street, I discovered Priorsford Books where I could happily have spent the rest of the day. I've never seen such a fabulous collection of second-hand children's books, as well as every other kind - all in good condition. I think they must have the whole set of The Chalet School books for instance, plus annuals of all kinds. Even the old magazines were beautifully preserved inside see-through covers.

How did I resist? Partly because there was so much choice that I didn't know where to start plus the small matter of having got rid of many books when we moved. Don't think husband would have appreciated me carting home lots more. However, I'll know where to buy a particular book if ever the need should arise.

After a very welcome lunch, we discovered the John Buchan Museum, which we hadn't realised existed. Both the husband and I have loved every film version of The 39 Steps, Buchan's most famous novel, published in 1915, so we were interested to find out more about him. And what a story it turned out to be about this popular Scottish writer.

Isn't it a shame that an author often becomes famous for only one book? We were amazed to discover Buchan was also a biographer, poet, historian, journalist, publisher and statesman with over 100 books to his name. And he became Governor General of Canada in 1935!

It was a fascinating half hour in the small museum where we even watched the short trailer for one of film versions of The 39 Steps. I hadn't realised his sister, Anna, was also a successful novelist with the pen-name, O Douglas, and that she and her other brother, Walter, were well-known residents of Peebles.

This is a only a little of the remarkable man's achievements, from his days at Glasgow University, to Oxford and his great sense of adventure that took him to South Africa, as well as Canada where he died in 1940, aged 65.

Looking forward to what we might discover in the other Border towns when we eventually get there!



Anonymous said...

An enjoyable post Rosemary, as ever. I have the John Buchan complete collection and must get back to it. I bought it because 'Prester John' was a set book at my school but I can't recall any of it! I didn't know about the museum so must check it out next time I'm at the Borders. Catriona

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Well done for having the complete collection, Catriona! He had an interesting life.

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