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Memory Hold-the-Door [Pilgrim's Way] - Non-Fiction
Published 1940


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First published shortly after his death in February 1940, this is not an autobiography in the fullest sense, but rather a collection of reminiscences about people and places John Buchan had known. In the first sentence of the preface he wrote: 'This book is a journal of certain experiences, not written in the experiencing moment, but rebuilt out of memory'.

He recalled his boyhood in Scotland, his time at Oxford, his experiences in South Africa, his time as an MP, and his impressions of America. In one chapter, 'An Ivory Tower and its Prospect', he wrote a little about his own books. Of Richard Hannay and others of his popular characters he says: 'Soon these people became so real to me that I had to keep a constant eye on their doings'. Among what he considers to be his more serious fiction he believed 'Witch Wood' to be the best.

He shared an amusing incident about political heckling in the Borders. He offered insights into some of the famous men he had met, among them Lord Milner, Arthur Balfour, T. E. Lawrence (of whom he was an especial admirer), and George V. On his marriage he wrote: 'I have been happy in many things, but all my other good fortune has been as dust in the balance compared with the blessing of an incomparable wife'.

With this volume appears as an appendix two chapters of an intended work on fishing which were found among his papers after his death, and bear the pencilled title: 'Pilgrim's Rest'.

Duncan Johnstone February 2001


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