England Finally Putting Women In Their Place: On The Money!

Jane Austen bank note

It’s a monumental time for the British Economy: They are putting an iconic Female one of of their banknotes! Sure, it’s not the first time, but the moments in history when women have been featured on the money in the UK have been few and far between.

The Bank of England made the announcement on July 24, 2013. The Pride and Prejudice author will be the next face of the 10 pound note, replacing Charles Darwin, probably in 2017.

The British Chancellor tweeted this in reference to Mark Carney, the incoming Bank of England Governor:


In April, the Bank prompted a high-profile campaign against the prospect of having no female characters, besides the Queen, on the UK’s currency. It had announced that Sir Winston Churchill would be put on the £5 note from 2016, replacing social reformer Elizabeth Fry.

Fun Fact: Queen Elizabeth II appears on more denominations than anyone else – she features on currency in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK.

The decision to replace Elizabeth Fry on the £5 note prompted protests and discussions about female representation on banknotes, but Jane Austen was thought to have already been part of the Bank’s plans for the next new note.

Other than Fry, and now the incoming Jane Austen, the only other woman to be featured on UK currency was Florence Nightingale. She was on the 10 Pound note from 1975-1994.

Jane Austen, born in Hampshire in 1775 began to write as a teenager. Her first novel, Sense and Sensibility, appeared in 1811. She once described her next novel, Pride and Prejudice, as her “own darling child”. Her other published novels were Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey – the final two of which were published after her death. Most of her novels were published anonymously.

Mr Carney started discussions about female representation on banknotes on his first day in office.

The Bank said in a statement that it was “never the Bank’s intention” that none of the four characters on banknotes would be a woman.

He also announced a review of the selection process for future banknote characters, which means perhaps the country will see more women on their notes in the future.

The pressure was increased on the new governor through protests, an online petition – signed by 35,000 people, and a threat of legal action.

Caroline Criado-Perez protesting outside Bank of England

The campaign was led by Caroline Criado-Perez, who was invited to speak to Bank officials about the situation earlier in July. She described the expected announcement as “a brilliant day for women and a fantastic one for people power”.

“We warmly welcome this move from the Bank and thank them for listening to us and taking such positive and emphatic steps to address our concerns,” she said.

“To hear Jane Austen confirmed is fantastic, but to hear the process will be comprehensively reviewed is even better.

The unfortunate ugly downside to this passionate campaign are the death and rape threats  Caroline has been receiving.

According to NPR, she has been inundated with hundreds of death and rape threats on Twitter after the banknote news broke last week. Criado-Perez responded by retweeting the threats to her followers. Some of the more printable examples include: “I will find you and you don’t want to know what I will do when I do, you’re pathetic, kill yourself before i do.” and “Hey sweetheart, give me a call when you’re ready to be put in your place.”

When British Parliament member Stella Creasy spoke out in support of Criado-Perez, she also received rape threats, which she in turn retweeted.

Seriously these arrogant and clearly scared men need to grow up and accept the fact that women are here to stay and we make up more than half the population. What kind of a sick twisted no-life has to attack a woman who is working toward something she is passionate about? She isn’t harming anyone? If the Taliban can’t shutup 15 year old Malala, then good luck to this virtual imbecile who thinks his words are going to stop Caroline from campaigning in the future.

Now to a more positive end note. It certainly is a time for jubilation and celebrating the monumental and historical importance of women in the UK (said in the best Downton Abbey accent ever). The impact Austen’s literary prose has had on women for hundred of years is profound, none more so through the film and television industries where many versions of her novels have been produced.

So what does all this media stir mean for the future of women being featured on currency elsewhere in the world? Who will take up the campaign in their own country? Let’s wait and see what this will spark.

Jane Austen banknote


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