A.E.W. Mason was already a successful novelist when he wrote The Four Feathers in 1902. The book is the best known of the approximately thirty novels of his long career. The Four Feathers is a tale of cowardice, courage, heroism, duty, and redemption set against the backdrop of the British military operations in the Egyptian Sudan in the 1880's. An instant success, the tale is still widely known today, and has been adapted for films and reprinted numerous times.
Rather than be separated from his fiancee when his regiment deploys to the Sudan, Harry Feversham resigns his commission. But when his fiancee joins his former comrades in labeling him a coward by presenting him with symbolic feathers, Harry sets out to prove his courage and redeem his good name by committing acts of bravery and returning the feathers to those who presented them.
Unlike the film versions, the novel is driven more by the rich depth and diversity of the characters than by action and is an outstanding exposition of the concepts of duty, courage and character that permeated Victorian England.