The Bank of England’s unveiled a new polymer £10 note featuring on Tuesday, the day that marked the 200th anniversary of the novelist’s death.
The Pride and Prejudice author will become the only woman, apart from the Queen, to appear on a current UK banknote when the new £10 enters circulation in September. A £5 note featuring prison reformer .
The note is the second to be printed on a plastic polymer which the Bank says is cleaner, safer and more hard-wearing than the traditional cotton paper it will replace. A plastic fiver featuring entered circulation last September.
The new £10 note will also include tactile features to help blind and partially sighted people better identify their money.
Wendy Rankin, director of mobility services at the charity Guide Dogs, said she was “delighted” at the inclusion of the feature which would ensure that people with sight loss can continue to use cash with confidence.
Speaking at the launch of the new note at Winchester Cathedral, where Ms Austen was buried, Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said the author, “certainly merits a place in the select group of historical figures to appear on our banknotes.
“Her novels have an enduring and universal appeal, and she is recognised as one of the greatest writers in English literature.
“As Austen joins Adam Smith, Boulton and Watt, and Churchill, our notes will celebrate a diverse range of individuals who have contributed in a wide range of fields.”
The new note also features a famous quote from Pride and Prejudice’s Miss Bingley: “I declare after all there is no enjoyment but reading!”
The move to polymer notes sparked controversy last year after the Bank confirmed that an “extremely small amount” of tallow – or animal fat – was used to produce the polymer pellets used in the production process for the new notes.
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Activists and religious groups have been pushing for sustainable, plant-based alternatives and have accused the central bank of forcing unethical products on the public.
The Bank said it had held off signing new contracts for the £20 polymer note, which is due to be released in 2020 while it worked to better understand public opinion on the issue. It said it is also exploring other plant-based replacement options including palm oil and coconut oil.
The Bank said it would keep the £5 in circulation and issue the £10 as planned in September because other options such as destroying the notes would be too expensive.
Additional reporting by news agencies