The new plastic Jane Austen ten pound note will come into circulation this Thursday – meaning time’s nearly up for the old paper ones.
The polymer note is the first British banknote with tactile information for blind and partially sighted people – and features author Jane Austen.
Austen knocks Charles Darwin off his slot on the note, and is now the only woman to feature on an English bank note, following the withdrawal of a paper £5 note featuring social reformer Elizabeth Fry.
Existing 10 pound notes, which feature the scientist Charles Darwin, will cease to be legal tender during the first half of next year.
The Bank of England has printed an initial run of a billion of the new notes, after last year’s launch of a five pound note made from a polymer film that the BoE said is more durable and harder to forge.
The Bank of England says each new 10 pound note should last for around five years, compared to around two years for the paper note it is replacing. Like the plastic fiver, the new £10 is not vegan friendly.
The new tenner mark the 200th anniversary of author Jane Austen’s death. The writer was buried in Winchester Cathedral in 1817 and completed many of her best-known works such as ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Emma’ in the Hampshire village of Chawton.
Austen’s personal letters reveal that she spent a lot of time in Portsmouth as both of her brothers, Francis and Charles, trained to become naval officers at the Royal Naval Academy in Portsmouth Dockyard.
Her novel, Mansfield Park centres around Portsmouth, then, at the turn of the 19th Century, only a small naval town of 7,000 people…with a somewhat dubious reputation.
In the novel one character, Fanny Price, says of Portsmouth, “The men appeared to her all coarse, the women all pert, every body under-bred.”
In the same novel Austen does write more favourably about Portsmouth though, saying, “The day was uncommonly lovely. It was really March; but it was April in its mild air, brisk soft wind, and bright sun, occasionally clouded for a minute; and every thing looked so beautiful under the influence of such a sky, the effects of the shadows pursuing each other, on the ships at Spithead and the island beyond, with the ever-varying hues of the sea now at high water, dancing in its glee and dashing against the ramparts with so fine a sound, produced altogether such a combination of charms for Fanny, as made her gradually almost careless of the circumstances under which she felt them. Nay, had she been without his arm, she would soon have known that she needed it…”
Austen received a 10 pound publisher’s advance for her first novel, Sense and Sensibility, in 1811 and the new banknote bears a quotation ‘I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!’ from her later work, ‘Pride and Prejudice’.