‘Pride and Prejudice’ author Jane Austen could be the next face of English banknotes

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: World’s eminent author, Jane Austen, who earned meager income either by doing a few odd jobs or by getting her works published during her lifetime, will now get a place of honour on the English currency note, if the Bank of England decides in her favour.

As reported by the Guardian, the retiring governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King, has told the Treasury select committee that Austen might be the new face of the 10 GBP note. However, the final decision will be taken by Mervyn’s successor, Mark Carney after he takes the post on July 1.

The feminists protested when it was announced by King that the prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, who happens to be the only woman to appear on an English currency note other than the Queen, would be replaced by Winston Churchill in 2015. Angry protestors have warned that they will move court under the 2010 Equality Act, in case any discriminatory action is taken by the bank.

Till date, only two women have found their place on the English banknote namely – Elizabeth Fry and Florence Nightingale. The other faces have all been men such as William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, composer Sir Edward Elgar and scientist Michael Faraday.

The English daily reports that 29,000 people have signed a petition to retain prominent women on the currency notes, damning Fry`s relegation as "yet another example of how the establishment undervalues the contributions of women to history".

Winston Churchill, who King has described as "a truly great British leader, orator and writer", will make appear on the 5 GBP note as planned from 2015. King added that once the Churchill notes are in circulation, Fry will continue to appear on the old £5 notes until they are phased out.

Ideally, the citizens of the UK put forward their suggestions on who should become the face of the banknotes. Only people who have made an "indisputable contribution to their particular field of work" are considered eligible for the honour. The Bank considers public suggestions but takes the final call on its own.

The soon-to-be-retiring governor’s announcement that Jane Austen is a candidate for the 10 GBP note might put the pressure on Carney to give his nod.

The daily writes that the theme “money” is prevalent in all of Austen’s works - from Mr. Darcy`s fabulous wealth in ‘Pride and Prejudice’, to the crimped lifestyle of the Dashwood sisters in ‘Sense and Sensibility’.

"There are plenty of novelists who think that money is important and make you aware of that when you are reading, but she makes her characters aware of it, which is a rather more brilliant thing,” said John Mullan, professor of English at University College London to the daily.