Sir Mervyn King, the outgoing governor of the Bank of England, has announced that Jane Austen may become the new face of the 10-pound note, replacing Charles Darwin who occupied this place previously. The final decision is yet to be made; it depends on King’s successor, Mark Carney, but the possibility of this change is quite high; the writer has been considered to be a candidate for a couple of years already.
It should be noted that it is not the only new face we are going to see soon: this change is just a part of the new F series of banknotes, which is gradually replacing the old E series. It is also not the first piece of news from the Bank of England which has been met with certain criticism: for example, Winston Churchill will replace social reformer Elizabeth Fry on the 5-pound note, and famous economist Adam Smith has already replaced composer Edward Elgar on the 20-pound note. The latter change is somewhat notable as well; after all, he is not an Englishman, but a Scot, and thus he became the first Scot to appear on British banknotes.
The decision to include Jane Austen into this pantheon can hardly be called surprising news; if you ask somebody, even a person who is not very well acquainted with British literature, to name the first British writer that comes to mind, it will most likely be Jane Austen (or Charles Dickens, but his face has already been adorning the 10-pound in the nineties); she turned into a kind of icon for British literature; even the people who have never read a single novel written by her are most likely to know their names and, sometimes, their contents: at least due to the fact that newer screen versions of them are released every now and then.
Among these novels the most famous and the most characteristic is, undoubtedly, Pride and Prejudice; a brilliant depiction of early 19th century British gentry, their life, interests and aspirations. Many consider this book to be the English novel, the work of literature that is the most typical and meaningful for the nation. Although Jane Austen wasn’t very well known in her lifetime, she turned out to be one of those writers to whom fame comes only posthumously. And it is quite certain that in future her prominence will only grow; the emergence and constant growth of the Janeite fan culture throughout the 20th century is a very good proof of this point.
Jane Austen is one of those names that represent Great Britain in the world; which means that it is only fitting for her face to be on British money.