Richard Hannay Returns in “Greenmantle”

13 05 2010

One year after the success of the novel “The 39 Steps,” John Buchan brought back his hero, Richard Hannay, in a new adventure called “Greenmantle.” Alfred Hitchcock had hoped to make “Greenmantle” into another spy movie, this time starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, but, reportedly, Buchan’s estate wanted too much money for the rights to the story.

The adventure begins in 1915, as Hannay and his friend, Sandy Arbuthnot, recover from wounds received in the Battle of Loos. Sir Walter Bullivant, who had appeared in “The 39 Steps,” summons Hannay to the Foreign Office to send him on a mission to stop the Germans and Turks from causing an uprising throughout the Muslim world. Bullivant supplies Hannay with a few clues to the truth behind the rumors, which were gotten by Bullivant’s own son, who was killed in the execution of his duties.

Hannay joins forces with an American, John Blenkiron, who is considered neutral, as the U.S. had not yet joined the conflict. In Constantinople, a fourth adventurer joins their cause: Peter Pienaar, a Boer whom Hannay knew from his mining days in Africa.

Without giving away too much of the story, Hannay and his allies follow clues, operate in enemy territory at their own peril, and eventually locate plans created by the religious leader called Greenmantle, who is reported to be on his deathbed. By the time they reach his stronghold, however, Greenmantle is dead, and it falls to Arbuthnot to impersonate the leader so that the uprising can be thwarted.

Buchan based the character of Arbuthnot on his friend, Aubrey Herbert, a British diplomat and intelligence officer, and also on T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, who was an active force on the international scene in at this time.

Richard Hannay would return for his next adventure in the 1919 novel “Mr. Standfast.”

You can download “Greenmantle” free from Project Gutenberg here, or you can find it in various editions on Amazon, including several that collect all the Hannay stories together.




3 responses

13 05 2010
Peggy Jo Donahue

Adam, this was fascinating – I had no idea there were other books with this character! Someday, remind me to send you a copy of an article I once included in a jewelry magazine I edited – about how Hitch used jewelry as plot twists and props in his movies. Absolutely fascinating piece by two jewelry historians who focus on Hollywood!

13 05 2010

Hey, send it sooner rather than later, PJ – and even better, if there’s a link to it online, send that, and I’ll cover it here!

28 05 2010
At Last, “The 39 Steps” « Hitchcock and Me

[…] I mentioned here, Hitchcock had wanted to make John Buchan’s second Hannay novel, “Greenmantle,” […]

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