Woman's long fight forces Bank of England to release note featuring Jane Austen

Business | 14 Sep 2017 8:07 pm

A new plastic 10-pound note featuring Jane Austen, one of Britain’s most renowned authors, has gone into circulation, but it was the result of tough fight by a woman against the Bank of England.

The note was made possible by campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, who called herself a "newly hatched feminist,'' and who took on the Bank of England and its former governor Meryvn King, who had proposed Winston Churchill as the face of the new five-pound note. Churchill was to replace prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, "the only female historical figure on the entire range of banknotes,'' Criado-Perez wrote in the Evening Standard yesterday. "Knowing what I knew, I wasn’t going to take this latest scrubbing out of women from public life laying down.''

She concludes: "Fast-forward four years and the £10 note with Jane Austen on it is set to be released. I don’t think it will be real until I hold one in my hand — but I imagine it will feel amazing. I’ll be donating my first Austen tenner to my local women’s shelter. It feels like the right way to end this chapter of my life.

The Guardian reports today that Criado-Perez was subjected to online abuse after leading the campaign for female representation on British banknotes. 

She has pledged to donate her first Jane Austen tenner to a women’s shelter, the paper says.

Criado-Perez, co-founder of the feminist blog, the Women’s Room, said: "I’ll be donating my first Austen tenner to my local women’s shelter. It feels like the right way to end this chapter of my life.”

Criado-Perez told the Guardian: "This represents so much more than a banknote: the Bank of England changed their entire selection procedure to make sure an all-male line-up would never happen again. That was the real fight and that’s what I’m most proud of achieving.”

She pointed out that Austen was the bank’s choice not hers. 

Apart from the Queen, whose portrait is on all U.K. currency, Austen is only the third woman to feature on a modern-day British banknote, after medical innovator Florence Nightingale and social reformer Elizabeth Fry. She was chosen after a campaign for more female representation.

The new ‘tenner,’ as it’s commonly known, is the first British banknote with a tactile feature, a series of raised dots in the top left-hand corner to help blind and partially sighted users.

The note is made of polymer and is the central bank’s latest effort to make cash harder to counterfeit, following last year’s launch of a similar five-pound note that showcases Winston Churchill. A new 20-pound note featuring artist JMW Turner will follow in 2020.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, said: "Austen’s novels have a universal appeal and speak as powerfully today as they did when they were first published.”

Austen, whose novels include "Pride and Prejudice,” ″Emma,” and "Sense and Sensibility,” is considered one of the great chroniclers of English country life in the Georgian era at the turn of the 19th century. Combining wit, romance and social commentary, her books have been adapted numerous times for television and film.

As well as a portrait of Austen, the note features a quote from "Pride and Prejudice”: "I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”

New security features on the tenners — which at a value of about US$13 each can buy a couple pints of beer or, at a stretch, a pair of Austen novels — will make them more difficult to counterfeit, the bank said.

"It is wonderful to see the inspirational author Jane Austen celebrated,” said Victoria Cleland, the Bank of England’s chief cashier. "And even more poignant being launched during the 200th anniversary of her death.”-AP/The Standard

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