John Buchan’s “Thirty-Nine Steps” movie posters

john buchan 39 steps

The Thirty-Nine Steps is an adventure novel by Scottish author John Buchan. It first appeared as a serial in Blackwood’s Magazine, credited to “H de V.”, in July, August and September 1915 before being published in book form in October that year by William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh. It is the first of the five novels featuring Richard Hannay, an all-action hero with a stiff upper lip and a miraculous knack for getting himself out of tricky situations.

The novel has been the basis for many successful adaptations, including several films and a long-running stage play. In 2003, the book was listed on the BBC’s The Big Read poll of the UK’s best-loved novels.

The 1935 film was directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starred Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll. It is very loosely based on the 1915 adventure novel. Since its initial release, the film has been widely acknowledged as a classic. Filmmaker and actor Orson Welles referred to it as a “masterpiece.”