born in Perth, was educated at Brasenose College, Oxford. From 1901 to 1903 he was in South Africa with the High Commission working on reconstruction after the Boer War, and later combined a literary career with a career in public life, culminating with the post of governor‐general of Canada, 1935–40. He wrote many non‐fiction works, including lives of Montrose (1913) and Scott (1932), but is remembered for his adventure stories, the first of which was Prester John (1910), set in Africa. Many of his other tales feature a recurring group of heroes (Richard Hannay, Sandy Arbuthnot, Peter Pienaar, Edward Leithen, etc.); favoured settings include Scotland, the Cotswolds, and South Africa, although the last, Sick Heart River (1941), prefiguring his own death, is set in the icy wastes of Canada. The stories are packed with action; the characterization is simple; the landscapes are lovingly evoked. The most popular include The Thirty‐Nine Steps (1915), Greenmantle (1916), Mr Standfast (1918), and John Macnab (1925). See also Spy Fiction.