— Literacy Trust (@Literacy_Trust) July 18, 2017
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a Jane Austen banknote.
Today, the Bank of England revealed their new £10 note, which pays tribute to Pride and Prejudice author Jane Austen. The event took place on the 200th anniversary of her death, at Winchester Cathedral, where Austen was buried in 1817. Replacing biologist Charles Darwin, the note will be issued on September 14th and more widely across the UK later this year.
The campaign started when news came out that the only woman to feature on the back of a note, prisoner reformer Elizabeth Fry, would be replaced on the £5 note by Winston Churchill (Queen Elizabeth II appears on the obverse).
The Austen portrait is one of the few we have of the writer, commissioned by her nephew James Edward Austen Leigh (Jane Austen’s nephew) in 1870, and adapted from an original sketch of Jane Austen drawn by her sister, Cassandra Austen.
The quote on the note, which comes from Caroline Bingley in Pride and Prejudice, reads “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!” and though many have noted that Bingley in the context of the book only says this line to impress Mr. Darcy, Bank of England governor Mark Carney defended the choice. He says, “It captures much of her [Jane Austen’s] spirit, at least in my mind. It draws out some of the essence of some of her social satire and her insight into people’s character. So it works on multiple levels.”
There’s some other cool security features of the note, like a “quill at the side of the window which changes from purple to orange,” a “book-shaped copper foil patch which contains the letters JA,” and of course, a “see-through window featuring the Queen’s portrait.” Other Austen-related imagery includes:
- An illustration of Miss Elizabeth Bennet undertaking “The examination of all the letters which Jane had written to her”– from a drawing by Isabel Bishop (1902-1988).
- The image of Godmersham Park. Godmersham was the home of Edward Austen Knight, Jane Austen’s brother. Jane Austen visited the house often and it is believed that it was the inspiration for a number of her novels.
- Jane Austen’s writing table – the central design in the background is inspired by the 12 sided writing table, and writing quills, used by Jane Austen at Chawton Cottage
BBC also points out that the note is expected to last “two-and-a-half times longer than the current note” as it’s made of what chief cashier Victoria Cleland calls “cleaner, safer, stronger polymer.” It’ll be a few years until the United States will officially replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman, so it’s exciting to see more countries acknowledge the contributions women made to their nations.
(via BoingBoing, image:Bank of England)
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