There aren’t very many women on bank notes and coins across different continents and countries. The Bank of England is hoping to remedy this somewhat by putting a prominent female citizen from English history on its new £10 note. The woman the bank has chosen is none other than novelist Jane Austen, which would likely be a bummer to the Bronte sisters and George Eliot if they were alive to see the currency.
The new note will feature a portrait of Jane Austen that was initially drawn by her sister Cassandra before being re-commissioned by her nephew to be redone as a professional portrait in 1870. Other features of the new note include an orange-ish hue,an illustration of one of Austen’s most famous protagonists, Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennet, and a quote, also from Pride and Prejudice, that reads, “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!” I’m not sure what that quote really has to do with money, but it certainly fits the literary theme of the bill.
Austen isn’t the only new face to be put on to different notes in recent years. In fact, the £10 note will street within a year of a £5 note featuring politician Sir Winston Churchill. Other prominent faces on British notes include philosopher and economist Adam Smith, manufacturer Matthew Boulton and his engineer partner James Watt. We still have quite a while before the Austen note actually gets printed; the Churchill note isn’t expected to be finished or released on to the market until 2016, with the Austen note to follow.
All of the people chosen by the Bank of England so far have been popular British names and faces, but seem to have little else in common. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, who debuted the note, says those behind the creation of the new notes are looking for variety and diversity.
“Jane Austen certainly merits a place in the select group of historical figures to appear on our banknotes. Her novels have an enduring and universal appeal and she is recognized as one of the greatest writers in English literature. As Austen joins Adam Smith, Boulton and Watt, and in future, Churchill, our notes will celebrate a diverse range of individuals who have contributed in a wide range of fields.”
Austen was born in 1775 and grew up within a close-knit family. It took a while for the author to gain prominence in the literary field, but she later became known for a wide range of witty novels that take a look at life in 19th century England. Some of these novels include Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, and the aforementioned Pride and Prejudice, which is fittingly turning 200 this year. Though she didn’t achieve widespread fame during her lifetime, her books have never been out of print in the years since. Now her face at least will be even more prominent, thanks to the new bill.