On the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, the Bank of England has unveiled a new banknote featuring the beloved author.
The new notes, made of polymer, will be entering circulation in September.
The Telegraph notes that Austen “will be the only woman – apart from the Queen – to be featured on an English bank note, following the withdrawal of the old £5 notes, which featured Elizabeth Fry, in May.” (The five-pound note now features Winston Churchill.)
The new currency is not without controversy. First, there’s the vegan thing. The BBC explains:
“The £10 note will be made of the same material as the £5 note, which means it also contains some traces of animal fat – an issue which caused concern for vegans and some religious groups when it was launched last September.
“A petition to ban the note attracted more than 100,000 signatures but the new £10 will again contain some tallow, which is derived from meat products.”
Then there’s the choice of Austen image. The face on the currency comes from a pretty portrait made after the author died, which softened the edges of a sketch made from life. Here’s more from The Sunday Times:
“The historian and television presenter Lucy Worsley, who has recently published a book about the Pride and Prejudice author, said: ‘Jane Austen fans are pleased, obviously, that she’s going to appear on the banknote, but it’s deeply ironic that the image chosen by the Bank of England isn’t really her.
” ‘It’s an author publicity portrait painted after she died in which she’s been given the Georgian equivalent of an airbrushing — she’s been subtly “improved.” ‘
” ‘Jane had a much sharper face — some might call it sour.”
Like the new five-pound bill, the Austen tenner includes anti-counterfeiting features and is noteworthy for its resiliency: The bills are expected to last 2.5 times longer than their paper counterparts.
A polymer 20-pound note, featuring J.M.W. Turner, is planned for 2020.