Twelve stories comprise John Buchan's last collection of short stories, a classic of British interwar short fiction written from 1913 to 1927.
Buchan's most popular character Richard Hannay battles an ancient curse in South Africa in 'The Green Wildebeest' and Edward Leithen tags along in an assassins' war in 'Sing a Song of Sixpence'. The Runagates Club features First World War spy and code-cracking thrillers 'The Loathly Opposite' and 'Dr Lartius'; tales of supernatural possession in deepest Wales, comfortable Oxfordshire and the House of Commons, in 'The Wind in the Portico', Fullcircle' and '"Tendebant Manus"'; and stories of survival in the far North and in Depression-era Canada with 'Skule Skerry' and 'Ship to Tarshish'. There is farce too, in 'The Frying-Pan and the Fire' and '"Divus" Johnston', and the riotous journalistic romp of 'The Last Crusade' is the last word on fake news, for all eras.
What makes The Runagates Club special is that Buchan designed it as a showcase to bring together the best of his magazine fiction. He repurposed these stories with new beginnings, framing them as after-dinner stories told over the port in a late 1920s private gentleman's dining-club. This is interwar storytelling at its very best, with a critical introduction by Kate Macdonald, a leading authority on Buchan’s writing.
About the authors
John Buchan (1875-1940) was a polymath who lived in the Victorian, Edwardian, and Georgian eras, through the Boer War and the First World War. As well as being a writer for over forty-five years, he was a civil servant, a journalist, a publisher, a war propagandist, a historian and biographer and a politician and diplomat. His wife, Susan Grosvenor, was a cousin of the Duke of Westminster and connected with much of the landed aristocracy of the British establishment. Buchan’s own family was of respectable but not wealthy farming stock from the Scottish Borders. He was the eldest of six siblings, a father of four, and a devoted son to a most trying mother. He studied Classics at Oxford, read for the Bar, worked in South Africa as an Imperial civil servant, was deputy editor of The Spectator, went into publishing, and in the First World War became Britain’s Director of Intelligence. He became deputy-director of Reuters, and was a Member of Parliament until he was ennobled by George V and became Governor-General of Canada. He died in 1940.
Kate Macdonald is a literary historian and a publisher. She has published widely on twentieth-century British book history and publishing culture, on publishing during the First World War, and on the fiction and professions of John Buchan. Her most recent books are Novelists Against Social Change(2015) and Rose Macaulay, Gender and Modernity (ed. 2018).