What greater way to honour the literary Queen of irony herself than with an ironic gesture on the new Bank of England £10 note, unveiled to mark 200 years since her death today.
Jane Austen fans have mixed feelings about the quote used at the bottom of the note, just under the portrait of the author painted after her death they claimed had been subject to the Georgian equivalent of “airbrushing”.
“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”
Only it’s not a quote directly from Jane Austen at all, but instead a Pride And Prejudice character considered among her most annoying, Caroline Bingley. It’s also a line uttered in flirtatious jest when she catches Mr Darcy reading and attempts to make conversation with him. The implication is she doesn’t much like reading at all, and is only reading to impress a man.
— KateMaltby (@KateMaltby) July 18, 2017
Sounds better without the context, doesn’t it?
However, the new plastic note, set to be in circulation from September, still makes a significant mark. Austen is only the second woman (alongside the Queen) to feature on a bank note, after Elizabeth Fry was booted off the paper five pound note in order to make way for Winston Churchill on the plastic one.
— Jane Austen’s House (@JaneAustenHouse) July 18, 2017
— Jane Ellen (@JaneEllen_) July 18, 2017
— Susana Muruaga (@ssussanam) July 18, 2017
— Fully Booked (@_FullyBooked) July 18, 2017
— ElisabethHobbes (@ElisabethHobbes) July 18, 2017
Jane Austen died in Winchester on 18 July 1817. The note unveiling will take place at Winchester Cathedral, where she was buried.