The new note featuring Jane Austen features a quote fans say is out of context. (Reuters: Chris J Ratcliffe)
A new plastic 10 pound note featuring renowned author Jane Austen has gone into circulation in Britain.
Austen is the first female writer to feature on a British banknote, replacing a paper 10 pound note which featured a portrait of naturalist Charles Darwin.
The new ‘tenner’ is the first British banknote with a tactile feature involving a series of raised dots in the top left-hand corner to help blind and partially sighted users.
The move coincides with the 200th anniversary of the author’s death and comes more than a year after Australia circulated its new $5 bank notes, whose new features also enabled vision-impaired people to read the currency.
Why Jane Austen?
Official works of Jane Austen:
- Sense and Sensibility — 1811
- Pride and Prejudice — 1813
- Mansfield Park — 1814
- Emma — 1815
- Persuasion — 1817
- Northanger Abbey — 1817
In an address at Winchester Cathedral, Bank of England governor Mark Carney revealed why Austen had been selected.
“Austen’s novels have a universal appeal and speak as powerfully today as they did when they were first published,” he said.
The circulation of the new notes follows a four-month period when women, apart from the Queen, have not been represented on the Bank’s notes, the BBC noted.
The last was the 5 pound note featuring reformer Elizabeth Fry, which was replaced last year by a fiver showcasing Winston Churchill.
What’s with the quote?
The choice of quote was met with some confusion when it was announced.
It’s a line out of Pride and Prejudice, no doubt one of Austen’s most iconic works, “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”.
But some Janeites were quick to point out that the quote, from Caroline Bingley, was not sincere.
I like to think Jane Austen would be amused at being included on the £10 note with a completely out-of-context quote from her books.
How will the process work?
Just over 1 billion of the notes have been printed and the general public should start seeing them over coming days and weeks.
The Bank of England said it would gradually start withdrawing the roughly 800 million 10 pound paper notes in circulation as they are banked by retailers and businesses.
The old notes will still be accepted in the shops until Spring 2018 with the exact date of withdrawal to be published three months in advance.
Mr Carney said banknotes serve as “repositories of the country’s collective memory, promoting awareness of the United Kingdom’s glorious history and highlighting the contributions of its greatest citizens.”