The "lad o' pairts", was an ideal encouraged by the Scottish educational system of the nineteenth century: a boy should strive to be an all-rounder, a pioneer, broad in knowledge and at the same time practical.
John Buchan was born in Perth, a Scottish lowland farming town, son of a minister of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. While his origins may have been considered lowly, Buchan's ambition was strong and his imagination knew no bounds. He grew up in Border country; Peebles and Broughton on the River Tweed, Pathhead on the Firth of Forth, and he loved wandering; taking long hikes in the countryside of his boyhood. Later, the family moved to the working-class district of the Gorbals, in Glasgow. Adapting to such a change of environment must have required great adjustments, but the experience would have only strengthened Buchan's resilience.