Austen ousts Darwin on British tenner
BRITAIN: The Bank of England has unveiled its first plastic £10 note, which features 19th-century novelist Jane Austen and will be available to the public from September.
The central bank has printed a billion of the new notes, known as ‘‘tenners’’, after last year’s launch of a £5 note made from a polymer film that the bank says is more durable and harder to forge.
Yesterday was the 200th anniversary of Austen’s death. She was buried in Winchester Cathedral in 1817, and completed many of her best-known works, such as Pride and Prejudice and Emma, in the nearby village of Chawton.
‘‘Ten pounds would have meant a lot to Jane Austen, about the same as £1000 would mean to us today,’’ Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said at the launch of the new note in Winchester.
Austen received a £10 publisher’s advance for her first novel, and the new banknote bears a quotation from Pride and Prejudice: ’’I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!’’
The quotation came from a character who had no interest in books and was merely trying to impress a potential suitor. It drew a mix of amusement and criticism in the media when it appeared on an initial design of the note in 2013.
Carney defended the choice yesterday. ’’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.’’
The bank says each new £10 note should last for about five years, compared to about two years for the paper note it is replacing. The new notes also have tactile features to make it easier for blind people to identify them.
Existing £10 notes, which feature the scientist Charles Darwin, will cease to be legal tender during the first half of next year.
Rolling out the new plastic notes has not been without its problems. The £5 note released last year drew criticism from vegetarians and some religious groups for containing trace amounts of animal fats – something which will also be the case for the new £10 note. – Reuters