[KS] Everard Cotes

Brother Anthony ansonjae at sogang.ac.kr
Mon Sep 8 22:47:01 EDT 2014

I am glad to indicate the presence in Wikipedia, since yesterday, of a surely much-awaited entry dedicated to Everard Cotes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everard_(Charles)_Cotes   

The name will be familiar to scholars of early western studies of East Asia as that of the author of the book "Signs and Portents in the Far East" (1907), in which nearly 30 of over 300 pages are devoted to Korea. Identifying himself as an "Anglo-Indian journalist" he presents his observations made during a rapid journey through China, Manchuria, Korea and Japan in 1906. He is strikingly sympathetic toward the Koreans and critical of the Japanese attitude toward them, with the exception (almost inevitable, it seems) of "Marquis Ito."

The book is frequently offered for sale on the Internet as being by "Mrs. Everard Cotes" despite the dedication "To my Wife" and his (not really very eventful) life story shows why. That the son of an English clergyman should become an expert in Indian insects working in a Calcutta Museum is hardly surprising. That that entomologist should then marry a vivacious and liberated Canadian journalist whom he met at a reception while she was making a journey round the world is less typical. His wife, Sara Jeannette Duncan, then went on to write and publish over 20 novels as well as quite a number of plays, always identifying herself as "Mrs. Everard Cotes (Sara Jeannette Duncan)" which explains why booksellers know her better than her husband, whose magnum opus was the 7-volume Catalogue of the Moths of India of 1887.

Most intriguing is the way in which, presumably, Everard's life was radically rewritten by his wife. It is otherwise hard to understand how a Deputy Superintendent of the Indian Museum, admittedly the author of "A Preliminary Account of the Wheat and Rice Weevil in India," was suddenly invited to become Editor of the Indian Daily News (Calcutta), later becoming the managing director of the Eastern News Agency, which included Associated Press of India and Indian News Agency, an important position that he held from 1910 until 1919.

Alas, both he and his wife have now faded into virtual oblivion, but since Chuseok asks us to remember our ancestors I was glad to bring his shade out of obscurity to the relative glory of Wikipedia. He spent little time in Korea, but he clearly rather liked what he saw, which is always good. I thought we should remember him briefly

Brother Anthony
President, RAS Korea

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