Jane Austen, recognized as one of the greatest writers in English literature will appear on a forthcoming Bank of England banknote. Jane Austen was an English novelist who, using wit and social observation, provided astute insights into 19th century life, often praising the virtues of reason and intelligence and highlighting some of the barriers that society erected against the progression of women. Many academics and the public alike consider her to be one of the greatest writers in English history. In a BBC poll in 2002, the British public voted her as one of the “100 Most Famous Britons of All Time”. Pride and Prejudice was voted the nation’s second favorite novel in the Big Read in 2004, with a total of three of her works making it into the top 40 (Emma and Persuasion are the other two). In 1875, the Encyclopaedia Britannica lauded her as “one of the most distinguished modern British novelists”. The Austen note will be issued as a £10 note, within a year of the Churchill £5 note, which is targeted for issue during 2016.
Features of the design on the reverse of the Jane Austen note will include:
- Portrait of Jane Austen. Commissioned by James Edward Austen Leigh (Jane Austen’s nephew) in 1870. James wrote the first biography of Jane Austen, ‘A Memoir’, published in 1870, and the illustration was produced by James Andrews, an artist from Maidenhead, as the frontispiece. It was adapted from the original sketch of Jane Austen which was drawn by her sister, Cassandra Austen, now in the National Portrait Gallery collection (NPG 3630). Image courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London.
- The quote – “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!” from Pride and Prejudice (Miss Bingley, Chapter XI). The book’s 200th anniversary is celebrated this year.
- 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), who illustrated E. P. Dutton & Company’s 1976 edition of Pride and Prejudice. Copyright DC Moore Gallery, New York, representing the Estate of Isabel Bishop.
- The image of Godmersham Park. Godmersham was 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. Image courtesy of Jane Austen’s House Museum, Jane Austen Memorial Trust.
- 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. The table belongs to Jane Austen’s House Museum.