The Saturday Westminster Gazette (Sep 19, 1914) text of  Arnold Bennett’s  The White Feather is more or less the same as that published in the American Collier’s a month later, but there is one puzzle.

The unpleasant young lady who hands the hero a feather at the end of the tale says (in the Westminster):

“That’s all you’re short of, you Koward! Why don’t you enlist?”

I don’t think I’ve come across that spelling before. Is it just a misprint?



  1. The Shadow
    Posted April 12, 2009 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

    It could be. On the other hand, I have found quite a number of people with the name Koward. Is it possible that Bennet knew people with that name, and unconsciously used that spelling instead of the correct one? I know that Conan Doyle once mistakenly called Sherlock Holmes’ sidekick James Watson instead of John. It seems that at the time of writing the offending story he knew someone called James Watson. I suppose that Bennet could have done something similar.

  2. Posted April 13, 2009 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    That’s possible. And the mistake could well be the type-setter’s, not Bennett’s. The word has become “coward” in the American publication a month later. I’ve looked up “Koward” in the OED, and it only exists as a very ancient variation of “coward”.

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