England Unveils New 10-Pound Note Featuring Jane Austen

Jul 18, 2017

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.

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