The Many Faces of Money

July 26, 2017

The Bank of England recently unveiled a new 10-pound note that features the face of Jane Austen, a famous writer, along with one of her most well-known characters, Elizabeth Bennet.

Jane Austen Banknote Concept by Bank of England via @Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

The note includes a quote that says, “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading.” We don’t disagree, but it did raise a question for us: who gets to be the face of a currency note?

Recently, countries have taken an effort to include women on currency notes. For example, last year Canada ran a competition asking citizens to choose from five prominent Canadian women to be featured on a currency note. They finally chose Viola Desmond, a human rights activist. In the United States, Harriet Tubman, a civil rights activist, was selected to replace President Andrew Jackson on the twenty-dollar bill.

All of these women have been prominent in bringing social change to their countries, but Jane Austen is unique in that she was a writer. She will be the third woman to be featured on a currency bill in England, following two other women who were social reformers (Elizabeth Fry and Florence Nightingale). The Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said, “As Austen joins Adam Smith, Boulton and Watt, and in future, Churchill, our notes will celebrate a diverse range of individuals who have contributed in a wide range of fields.”

Cheers to that! We think it’s pretty cool that a writer is featured on a bank note. After all, words can be powerful indeed!