Would Jane Austen Have Approved of the New £10 Banknote?

The Bank of England has unveiled its new £10 banknote featuring Jane Austen, on the 200th anniversary of the iconic author’s death. The problem is that the image on the note is based on a flattering portrait commissioned by Austen's nephew after the author's death at the age of 41. Compared to the only known likeness of Austen created during her lifetime -- a sketch drawn by her sister, Cassandra, showing the author with thin lips, a pointed chin, and bags under her eyes -- the image used for the note gives the author a softer, prettier, and more "airbrushed" look. The note has also drawn criticism for featuring the Pride and Prejudice quotation “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”, said by Caroline Bingley, a character who has no interest in reading and says this merely to impress Mr. Darcy.

Two women, on the money:

  • “It's deeply ironic that the image chosen by the Bank of England isn't really her,” said historian Lucy Worsley. “It's an author publicity portrait” that was created after her death.
  • Jane Austen and Queen Elizabeth II are the only women to be currently featured on any English banknotes.
  • Social reformer Elizabeth Fry’s image appeared on the back of the £5 note until 2016, when she was replaced by Winston Churchill, a move that created plenty of controversy for the Bank of England.
More Info: History.com

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