Victory for ‘people power’ as Jane Austen to appear on the £10 note

A ten pound note featuring Jane Austen.
A ten pound note featuring Jane Austen.
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Pride And Prejudice author Jane Austen will appear on £10 notes from 2017, the Bank of England has said following a public outcry over a lack of women on paper money.

Campaigners hailed the move as “a brilliant day for women and a fantastic one for people power” after a 35,000-name petition was presented to the Bank in the wake of the decision to put Sir Winston Churchill on £5 notes in place of prison reformer Elizabeth Fry –one of only two female selections since historical figures were introduced in 1970.

The Bank also announced that it is reviewing the way characters are chosen to feature on banknotes, given that its choices must “command respect and legitimacy”. It is inviting people to email suggestions on how it can make improvements to its selection process.

The Bank will also consider whether it can do more to act within the spirit of the public equality duty, which compels bodies to make sure they are acting fairly when making decisions.

Austen, also famous for her aptly-titled work Persuasion, poked fun at the establishment in her books and highlighted the frustrations of quick-witted women and the barriers placed in their way. She will appear on the £10 note within a year of Fry disappearing from the fiver.

Freelance journalist Caroline Criado-Perez, who set up the petition on campaign site Change.org, said: “Without this campaign the Bank of England would have unthinkingly airbrushed women out of history.”

She thanked the Bank for listening, adding: “To hear Jane Austen confirmed is fantastic, but to hear the process will be comprehensively reviewed is even better.”

The Bank said it wanted to reassure people that it never intended that none of the historic characters appearing on banknotes would be a woman. Explaining the review, Governor Mark Carney said: “We want people to have confidence in our commitment to diversity.”