The Free Fishers

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The Free Fishers
AuthorJohn Buchan
PublisherHodder & Stoughton[1]
Publication date
Media typePrint

The Free Fishers is a 1934 novel by the Scottish author John Buchan, his last work of historical fiction.[2] The novel is set in the Regency period, during the Napoleonic Wars.


The novel follows the adventures of Anthony Lammas, the young Professor of Logic and Rhetoric at St Andrews, who is drawn into a plot to kill the Prime Minister. The Free Fishers of the title are a secret organisation, previously smugglers, who provide support to the hero. After a series of adventures on the Northumberland moors, Lammas ultimately rejects success in order to return to his "little study and the drawer with the manuscripts of his great treatise on the relation of art and morals".[3]

Critical reception[edit]

David Daniell, in The Interpreter's House (1975), states that the novel is as fresh and engaging as Witch Wood is dark and suffocating. The exuberance of action does not swamp the plotting, and there are some fine assured touches. The technical details of high-speed pre-railway coaching are displayed with an easy mastery. [2]

Buchan's biographer Andrew Lownie, writing in 2013, notes that the novel has never been one of Buchan's most popular as it lacks the complexities of his other historical novels and the narrative pace of his "shockers". He considers it nevertheless to have a charm of its own.[3]


  1. ^ "The Free Fishers". British Library Catalogue. London: British Library. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
  2. ^ a b Daniell, David (1975). The Interpreter's House. Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd. p. 191-192. ISBN 0 17 146051 0.
  3. ^ a b Lownie, Andrew (2013). John Buchan: The Presbyterian Cavalier. Thistle Publishing. pp. 211–212. ISBN 978-1-909609-99-0.

External links[edit]