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Spot the Error

February 22, 2023

I do a lot of walking in London, just for fun, especially on Sundays. Sometimes I go on specific routes recommended in books. Recently I was perusing a book by Andrew Duncan, Secret London, to see if he had any tempting trails to offer. And in the section on Westminster I came upon the following: ‘Inside the Palace of Westminster’s clocktower is a little prison cell where suffragette Emily Pankhurst was detained for a time in the early twentieth century’. 

Can you spot the error? 

Obviously, that should be Emmeline Pankhurst. How could Duncan make such a mistake? That she was imprisoned in the clocktower is a somewhat recondite piece of information; how could he contrive to know it without knowing her name? And how could his editors let the mistake through? 

Sadly, this crass error is fairly common. Possibly it stems from a confusion with another famous suffragette, Emily Davison. But such carelessness smacks of sexism. I think it unlikely that a male figure of comparable fame from that period would be misnamed; would anyone refer to Herbert Asquith as Hubert Asquith? 


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  1. bruzon permalink

    I initially saw Westminter!

  2. Simon Carter permalink

    Could be the curse of Spell checker again (although mine offered “timelines” which would’ve been easier to spot).
    Lucia from the Mapp and Lucia stories was called Emmeline but there aren’t many of them around.

  3. kitticarriker permalink

    Brandon, like you, I am a watchdog for sexism; but in this case, I might attribute the error to sheer carelessness.

    Emmeline Pankhurst was real, and deserves to be called by her name. Yet, even in fiction, such carelessness is frustrating. I recently read an otherwise well – written novel that confuses “Cc” and “Bcc” as methods of sending an email, although the plot twist depends on who has seen which email. Apparently neither author nor editor nor proofreader (nor numerous tolerant readers) understand or care that a “Bcc” message would not reveal every other recipient. Careless!

    Searching for some commentary on this rather important mistake and its impact on the subplot, I read a serious review that glosses glibly over the “Bcc” error; and — insult to injury –goes on to refer to a deceased character as alive and speaking on the telephone. Careless, careless!

    As careful readers, I think we may underestimate the very high tolerance for carelessness.

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