Buchanan, George Henry Perrott (1904–89), journalist and writer, was born 9 January 1904 in Kilwaughter, Co. Antrim, second child and younger of two sons and one daughter of the Rev. Charles Henry Leslie Buchanan (1863–1939) and Florence Buchanan (née Moore). He was educated at Larne grammar school, Co. Antrim, Campbell College, Belfast, and QUB. He worked for the Northern Whig (1921), and was a founder member of the Northern Drama League, Belfast (1923). After moving to London, he joined the Daily Graphic, became a reviewer (1928–40) for the Times Literary Supplement, sub-editor (1930–35) of The Times, and columnist and drama critic (1935–8) for the News Chronicle.
During the second world war, he served as an operations officer in RAF Coastal Command (1940–45); his service included a period in Sierra Leone, operational liaison with the Free French in French Equatorial Africa, and night attacks on U-boats in the Bay of Biscay. After the war, he lived in Limavady, Co. Londonderry, for nearly ten years, which he later described as a period of regeneration. During this time, he broadcast for BBC radio and became chairman of the NI town and country development committee (1949–53) and a member (from 1954) of the executive council of the European Society of Culture (Venice), and later president of its London centre.
A versatile writer with wide-ranging concerns, he published his first journal, Passage through the present, in 1932; it was followed by six novels, including A London story (1935) and Naked reason (1971); his plays included ‘A trip to the castle’ (1960) and ‘War song’ (1965). The politics of culture (1977) was one of several collections of essays, and Green seacoast (1959) and Morning papers (1965) are autobiographical. His writing has been noted for its integrity and for the diversity of its ideas; recurrent themes are the importance of common experience, living sensitively in the present, and the impoverishment of urban life; he believed in the power of ideas and the creative nature of journalism in the modern world. Despite his prosaic style, he had written poetry from his teens; it ‘was always the base from which everything else was motivated. . . [it] affected, and perhaps energised, everything I did. Its pressure led me to special attitudes in journalism, in the theatre, in the novel’ (Ormsby, 77–8). He published his first collection, Bodily responses, in 1958; other collections include Annotations (1970) and Inside traffic (1976). In order to bring the variety of his work to a wider audience, Frank Ormsby (1947–) devoted a supplement in the Honest Ulsterman (1978) to Buchanan, whom he believed was almost forgotten in Ireland and had been unjustly neglected.
Buchanan lived at 18A Courtnell St., London W2, died 28 June 1989 in Richmond, Surrey, and was cremated at Mortlake crematorium, Richmond. He married first (1938) Winifred Mary Corn (marriage dissolved 1945); secondly (1949) Noel Pulleyne Ritter (d. 1951); thirdly (1952) the Hon. Janet Hampden Margesson (d. 1968), with whom he had two daughters; and fourthly (1974) Sandra Gail McCloy.