This month’s Buchan of the Month is The King’s Grace. It seems appropriate to be reading one of John Buchan’s works of nonfiction to coincide with Nonfiction November but also because we have recently marked the 100th anniversary of the interment of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey, a ceremony attended by King George V.
The King’s Grace was published in the UK by Hodder & Stoughton on 4th April 1935 and in the US by Houghton Mifflin (with the title The People’s King) on 1st May 1935. It was published in Canada by The Musson Book Company, bound up from sheets imported from England. A signed limited edition of 500 copies was also produced.
The King’s Grace was commissioned by Hodder & Stoughton to celebrate the 25th anniversary of King George V’s accession to the throne. Buchan’s first biographer, Janet Adam Smith, is anxious to point out the book is not a piece of “royal tushery” but a history of the events of the reign. She also quotes John Attenborough of Hodder & Stoughton, who worked with Buchan on the book, and recalls “He wrote the book at great speed, and we made great demands upon him as an author, for different versions of it were produced at different times, including special editions for school authorities, who wanted to give it away to their pupils as a memento of the anniversary.”
My own copy (complete with bookplate) is one of those school editions, in this case published by University of London Press. The frontispiece states “In accordance with the wishes of Mr. John Buchan, this School Edition of The King’s Grace has been specially prepared and edited by Dr. F. H. Spencer”. (Although he was still Mr. John Buchan at the time of publication of the book he would shortly become Baron Tweedsmuir of Elsfield, in preparation for taking up the post of Governor-General of Canada.)
Look out for my review of The King’s Grace later this month.
Janet Adam Smith, John Buchan: A Biography (OUP, 1985 )
Kenneth Hillier and Michael Ross, The First Editions of John Buchan: A Collector’s Illustrated Biography (Avonworld, 2008)
Nonfiction November 2020 runs from 2nd to 30th November 2020. This year it’s hosted by Katie at DoingDewey, Rennie at What’s Nonfiction, Julz of JulzReads and Leann at Shelf Aware.
As in previous years, they’ll be posting a discussion question and link-up on the Monday of each week. Check out this post for the full schedule and proposed prompts. You can read my response to the first week’s prompt below.
My Year in Nonfiction
Leann asks: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?
Here are the nonfiction books I’ve read since last year’s Nonfiction November, grouped roughly by subject matter. Links from the titles will take you to my reviews. I would say my favourite was The Salt Path, Raynor Winn’s account of her journey along the South West Coast Path with her husband, Moth. I have also read a number of Holocaust memoirs. They never make easy reading but are invariably incredibly inspiring.
The Salt Path by Raynor Winn
The Wild Silence by Raynor Winn
One Hundred Miracles: A Memoir of Music and Survival by Zuzana Ruzickova & Wendy Holden
Living Among the Dead: My Grandmother’s Holocaust Survival Story of Love and Strength by Adena Bernstein Astrowsky
Adrift: How Our World Lost Its Way by Amin Maalouf
A Book of Escapes and Hurried Journeys by John Buchan
Homilies and Recreations by John Buchan
The Last Secrets: The Final Mysteries of Exploration by John Buchan
Here are the nonfiction books I hope to read in November. It will be good to get them off my TBR pile and Nonfiction November gives me the perfect push to do that! Click on the title to view the full book description on Goodreads.
In A Time of Monsters: Travels Through A Middle East in Revolt by Emma Sky – won in a Readers First giveaway, this has been on my shelf for way too long. It promises to make ‘a complex region more comprehensible’. I shall look forward to that.
The King’s Grace by John Buchan – his portrait of Britain during the reign of George V published in 1935 to mark the 25th anniversary of the King’s accession.
It Was Different At The Time by Inez Holden – published by Handheld Press alongside the author’s novella Night Shift (so perfect for next week’s book pairing prompt), It Was Different At The Time is Holden’s account of wartime life from April 1938 to August 1941, drawn from her own diary.
Are you taking part in Nonfiction November?