Buchan of the Month: Introducing…The Magic Walking Stick by John Buchan #ReadJB2020

The Magic Walking Stick John BuchanMy Buchan of the Month for September is The Magic Walking Stick, one of the few books John Buchan wrote for children. It’s a book I don’t own a physical copy of and which I haven’t read. It seems I’m not alone in that respect as the biographies of Buchan I usually consult when putting together blog posts like this have little, if anything, to say about the book.

Andrew Lownie feels it shares with Buchan’s Huntingtower trilogy (Castle Gay, Huntingtower and The House of the Four Winds) a preoccupation with monarchists and republicans. He notes a large part of the book is devoted to the rescue by Bill (the young hero of the book) of Prince Anatole, heir to the throne of Gracia. Ursula Buchan, John Buchan’s granddaughter and latest biographer, believes the book grew out of the stories her grandfather used to tell his children during country walks.

The Magic Walking Stick was published in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton on 24th October 1932 and in the US by Houghton Mifflin two days later. The book is dedicated to Carola, Margaret and Jeremy, the children of his sister-in-law, Margaret (known as Marnie).

A note by the author states, “The germ of this story was contained in a contribution of mine to Lady Cynthia Asquith’s volume Sails of Gold”. Buchan had known Cynthia Asquith since he was at Oxford. She was the sister-in-law of his friend, Raymond Asquith, who was killed in the First World War. Sails of Gold, an anthology of short stories for children contributed by various authors, was published in 1927. The Magic Walking Stick was also serialized in St. Nicholas, an American magazine for children, between December 1933 and April 1934.

Look out for my review of the book later this month.


Ursula Buchan, Beyond The Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan (Bloomsbury, 2019)
Kenneth Hillier and Michael Ross, The First Editions of John Buchan: A Collector’s Illustrated Biography (Avonworld, 2008)
Andrew Lownie, John Buchan: The Presbyterian Cavalier (Constable, 1995)