The Bank of England chose the chronicler of 18th century English country life as the new face of the note, bowing to critics who complained that the venerable institution was ignoring women on their currency.
“Jane Austen certainly merits a place in the select group of historical figures to appear on our banknotes,” the bank’s new governor Mark Carney said Wednesday in a statement.
“Her novels have an enduring and universal appeal and she is recognized as one of the greatest writers in English literature.”
Carney elevated the creator of Mr. Darcy to the 10-pound (about $15) note within weeks of his taking over the helm of the UK’s central bank.
The controversy began earlier this year when the bank announced it would replace the 19th-century social reformer Elizabeth Fry with wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill on the five-pound note. Though Churchill is still revered for his World War II leadership, the change led to protests because no other woman – besides Queen Elizabeth II – would be represented on Britain’s currency.
Though few quibble with the hard work the monarch has done for Britain, women’s rights advocates fiercely argued that counting the head of state among the luminaries sent the wrong message to young women. This, they said, suggested that the only way for women to get ahead was to be born into the right family.
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