Jane Austen to grace our £10 note…

Jane-austen-Note  Good news or a safe choice?

The announcement that Jane Austen will feature on the Bank of England £10 notes, probably from 2017, is fantastic news for women in general and fans of the novelist in particular.

After the announcement that Elizabeth Fry will be replaced on the £5 notes by Sir Winston Churchill in 2016 it looked like that there would be no female representation on the nation’s paper currency and, unsurprisingly, this caused a little consternation in some quarters.

However, it would seem that there was always a long-term plan for Austen to feature at some point, although it’s unclear whether the pressure brought to bear by a number of protests, including an online petition which attracted 35,000 signatures, caused the decision to use Austen to be brought forward.

There’s no doubt Austen, my favourite novelist, thoroughly deserves the honour and it will be fun to gaze upon her countenance (the image on the notes will be an adaptation from a sketch of the author drawn by her sister Cassandra) whenever I dip into my purse whilst shopping.

The one downside to this story was George Osborne’s awful pun. On his Twitter account Osborne said “Mark Carney’s choice of Jane Austen as face of £10 note is great. After understandable row over lack of women , shows sense and sensibility”. Stick to the politics please Mr Chancellor.

Austen will become only the third woman to have her image put on a Bank of England note, following Elizabeth Fry and Florence Nightingale.

Despite my own personal joy at the Bank of England’s choice of Austen and the decision being trumpeted as a victory for feminist campaigners there has also been criticism from some quarters that the decision was safe, or even bland, with suggestions that other women, such as warrior-queen Boudicca or Crimean War nurse Mary Seacole, would have been more appropriate to grace a bank note.

In my view, the honour of appearing on a banknote directly relates to an individual’s accomplishments and there’s no arguing with Austen’s choice on that score. Her novels are as popular as ever, as shown by the number of people who enjoy my PandP Pride and Prejudice tours and they show no sign of diminishing in their appeal both in the UK and abroad.

Well done Bank of England.