So what makes Austen the ideal banknote candidate?
Her world-famous works have certainly spoken to millions throughout the two centuries since their publication. In recent years there have been numerous film adaptations of her most popular works, including Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightly, Sense and Sensibility with Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson, as well as a more recent adaptation of Emma with Gwenyth Paltrow.
Kathryn Sutherland , Professor of English at Oxford University says Austen holds ‘huge cultural currency’ for the English.
Jane Austen is an icon of English-ness. Her writing is a perfect example of English wit, politeness and reserve. She attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists to our shores every year and is still a very real part of our economy. Austen believed money was a marker of esteem and she freely admitted she’d rather people bought than borrowed her books.
Prof. Sutherland points out that the Bank of Scotland already issues notes bearing the face of another great novelist, Austen’s contemporary Walter Scott.
It is certainly important to represent literature on our bank notes. Integral cultural, moral and social values are preserved in novels that help us understand who we are and how we came to be. For this reason novelists are just as worth commemorating as leading figures in science and politics.
Austen faces stiff competition from other female figures such as mystery writer Agatha Christie, politician Ellen Wilkinson and the first female marine engineer Victoria Alexandrina Drummand.
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