Biographer Dr. Paula Byrne has criticized the Bank of England for selecting an “airbrushed” portrait of Jane Austen for its new £10 note.
Oxford University fellow Dr. Paula Byrne said the 1870 image was a “makeover” of an earlier portrait composed by the novelist’s sister Cassandra.
Halloween, the Jane Austen Society, which was consulted by the Bank of England, felt it was a good choice.
Jane Austen was chosen to replace Charles Darwin on the £10 note.
It is expected to come into circulation from 2017.
Dr. Paula Byrne, author of The Real Jane Austen, said the chosen image made the writer look like “a pretty doll with big doe eyes”.
“It’s a 19th Century airbrushed makeover,” said the fellow.
Biographer Paula Byrne has criticized the Bank of England for selecting an airbrushed portrait of Jane Austen for its new £10 note
“It makes me quite angry as it’s been prettied up for the Victorian era when Jane Austen was very much a woman of Georgian character.
“The costume is wrong and the image creates a myth Austen was a demure spinster and not a deep-thinking author.
“She was edgy for her time and the portrait by her sister Cassandra depicts an intelligent, determined woman.”
Elizabeth Proudman, chairman of the Jane Austen Society, said the Bank of England had done the best it could.
“There is only one authentic image available of Jane Austen and that is the pencil sketching by her sister that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.
“It’s an amateur portrait and, at the time, nobody particularly liked it.
“But, Jane Austen’s fame and popularity grew after her death and an engraving of Cassandra’s portrait was produced by [William Home] Lizars to go inside her memoirs.
“The family chose it, feeling it was a strong resemblance and that is more or less the image which has been chosen.”
In a statement, the Bank of England said the banknote portrait was an 1870 engraving commissioned by Jane Austen’s nephew, James Edward Austen Leigh, adapted from the original Cassandra sketch.
Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775 in the village of Steventon in Hampshire. She died in Winchester on July 18, 1817.
The selection of Jane Austen for the £10 note removed the prospect of having no women, besides the Queen, on the UK’s currency.
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Jane Austen is to feature on the next £10 note, the Bank of England has announced, avoiding a long-term absence of women represented on banknotes.
The author of Pride and Prejudice will be the next face of the note, replacing Charles Darwin, probably in 2017.
Chancellor George Osborne tweeted the move showed “sense and sensibility”.
In April, the Bank prompted a high-profile campaign against the prospect of having no female characters, besides the Queen, on the UK’s currency.
It had announced that Sir Winston Churchill would be put on the £5 note from 2016, replacing social reformer Elizabeth Fry.
The latest announcement means that women could be absent from newly issued banknotes for up to a year, although the Elizabeth Fry £5 note will still be in circulation.
On Twitter, George Osborne wrote: “[Incoming Bank of England governor] Mark Carney’s choice of Jane Austen as face of £10 note is great. After understandable row over lack of women, shows sense and sensibility.”
Banknotes are regularly redesigned, in order to maintain security and prevent forgeries.
The most recent new design from the Bank of England to enter circulation was the £50 note. This features Matthew Boulton and James Watt, who were most celebrated for bringing the steam engine into the textile manufacturing process.
The decision to replace Elizabeth Fry on the £5 note prompted protests and discussions about female representation on banknotes, but Jane Austen was thought to have already been part of the Bank’s plans for the next new note.
Jane Austen is to feature on the next Bank of England’s £10 note, avoiding a long-term absence of women represented on banknotes
Mervyn King, in his last public appearance as governor of the Bank, said the author was “quietly waiting in the wings” to replace Charles Darwin.
Mark Carney started discussions about female representation on banknotes on his first day in office.
The Bank said in a statement that it was “never the Bank’s intention” that none of the four characters on banknotes would be a woman.
“Jane Austen certainly merits a place in the select group of historical figures to appear on our banknotes. Her novels have an enduring and universal appeal and she is recognized as one of the greatest writers in English literature,” Mark Carney said.
He also announced a review of the selection process for future banknote characters. Jane Austen will be the 17th historical figure to appear on Bank of England notes. The review will be completed by the end of the year.
The pressure was increased on the new governor through protests, an online petition – signed by 35,000 people, and a threat of legal action.
The campaign was led by Caroline Criado-Perez, from Rutland, who was invited to speak to Bank officials about the situation earlier in July.
Caroline Criado-Perez described the expected announcement as “a brilliant day for women and a fantastic one for people power”.
“We warmly welcome this move from the Bank and thank them for listening to us and taking such positive and emphatic steps to address our concerns,” she said.
“To hear Jane Austen confirmed is fantastic, but to hear the process will be comprehensively reviewed is even better.”
The money raised for a legal challenge will now be donated to women’s charities the Fawcett Society, Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis.
Jane Austen, who lived from 1775 to 1817, became one of the country’s most celebrated novelists. She was born in Hampshire as one of eight children.
She began to write as a teenager. Jane Austen’s first novel, Sense and Sensibility, appeared in 1811. She described her next novel, Pride and Prejudice, as her “own darling child”.
Jane Austen’s other published novels were Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey – the final two of which were published after her death.
Most of her novels were published anonymously.
The portrait of Jane Austen, which will appear on the banknote, is adapted from a sketch drawn by her sister Cassandra Austen. Other features include:
- A quote from Pride and Prejudice: “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”
- An illustration of Elizabeth Bennet, one of the characters in Pride and Prejudice
- An image of Godmersham Park in Kent – the home of Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Austen Knight, and the inspiration for a number of novels
- A central background design of the author’s writing table which she used at home at Chawton Cottage in Hampshire
Fellow writers William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens have appeared on banknotes in recent times. Charles Dickens was on the £10 note and William Shakespeare on the £20 note.
Bank of England notes can be spent throughout the UK. In addition, three banks in Scotland and four in Northern Ireland are authorized to issue banknotes.
Winston Churchill will feature on the new design of the £5 banknote which will enter circulation in 2016, the Bank of England has announced.
The wartime British PM’s image is planned to feature on the reverse of the new £5 note, together with one of his most celebrated quotations.
Sir Winston Churchill was chosen owing to his place as “a hero of the entire free world”, said Bank governor Sir Mervyn King.
The current face of the £5 note is social reformer Elizabeth Fry.
A wide range of historical characters appears on the reverse of Bank of England banknotes, with Elizabeth Fry the only woman among the current crop.
The Bank of England governor has the final say about who appears on a banknote, although the public can make suggestions. The latest addition has been announced by Mervyn King at Winston Churchill’s former home of Chartwell, in Westerham, Kent, UK.
“Our banknotes acknowledge the life and work of great Britons. Sir Winston Churchill was a truly great British leader, orator and writer,” Mervyn King said.
“Above that, he remains a hero of the entire free world. His energy, courage, eloquence, wit and public service are an inspiration to us all.”
Current plans, which the Bank of England said might be reviewed, are for Winston Churchill to appear on the new £5 note to be issued in 2016.
Winston Churchill will feature on the new design of the £5 banknote which will enter circulation in 2016
The design includes a portrait of Winston Churchill, adapted from a photograph taken by Yousuf Karsh on 30 December 1941. The former prime minister is the only politician from the modern era to feature on a banknote.
The artwork will also include:
- Winston Churchill’s declaration: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat” which came in a speech in the Commons on 13 May 1940
- A view of Westminster and the Elizabeth Tower from the South Bank
- The Great Clock showing three o’clock – the approximate time of the Commons speech
- A background image of the Nobel Prize for literature, which Winston Churchill was awarded in 1953
Mervyn King said that this was an appropriate choice given the country’s economic difficulties.
“We do not face the challenges faced by Churchill’s generation. But we have our own,” he said.
“The spirit of those words remains as relevant today as it was to my parents’ generation who fought for the survival of our country and freedom under Churchill’s leadership.”
The Bank of England issues nearly a billion banknotes each year, and withdraws almost as many from circulation.
Notes are redesigned on a relatively frequent basis, in order to maintain security and prevent forgeries. Other security features include threads woven into the paper and microlettering.
The most recent new design from the Bank of England was the £50 note, which entered circulation in November. This features Matthew Boulton and James Watt who were most celebrated for bringing the steam engine into the textile manufacturing process.
While Bank of England notes are generally accepted throughout the UK, three banks in Scotland and four in Northern Ireland are authorized to issue banknotes.
Pharmacologist Sir Alexander Fleming, poet Robert Burns, and tyre inventor John Boyd Dunlop are among those who appear on these notes. One commemorative £5 note featuring football great George Best proved so popular that the limited edition of one million sold out in 10 days.
In May, a new 5-euro note will be put into circulation by the European Central Bank (ECB).
It features an image of the Greek goddess Europa, which comes from a vase in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
The image of Winston Churchill has featured on currency before.
He was the first commoner to be shown on a British coin when he appeared on the 1965 crown, or five shilling piece.
Winston Churchill, elected as a Conservative MP in 1900, served as chancellor in Stanley Baldwin’s government.
He replaced Neville Chamberlain to become the wartime British prime minister in May 1940 until 1945. He returned to office in 1951, and retired in 1955, aged 80.
“The Bank is privileged to be able to celebrate the significant and enduring contribution Sir Winston Churchill made to the UK, and beyond,” said Chris Salmon, chief cashier of the Bank of England, whose signature will also appear on the banknote.
Sir Nicholas Soames, Winston Churchill’s grandson and MP for Mid Sussex, said: “I think it is a wonderful tribute to him and an appropriate time. I can’t think of any more marvellous thing that would have pleased him more.”
He described the move as a great honor for the family.
Current Bank of England banknote images:
- £5: Elizabeth Fry, social reformer noted for her work to improve conditions for women prisoners
- £10: Charles Darwin, the scientist who laid the foundations of the theory of evolution
- £20: Adam Smith, one of the fathers of modern economics
- £50: Matthew Boulton and James Watt, who brought the steam engine into the textile manufacturing process. They are replacing notes featuring the first governor of the Bank of England, Sir John Houblon