Monday, July 17, 2017

Jane Austen's on the new tenner – but her influence spreads far wider than that

by David Barnett


July 17, 2018

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a beloved writer celebrating a notable anniversary must be in want of a news feature.

But where to begin with Jane Austen? Died 200 years ago today, aged just 41; author of six major novels (Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Emma and Persuasion); combined Regency grace with biting social commentary; insanely popular the world over to this very day.

Why should we care, though, about this Oxford-educated daughter of a rector, swanning around in her long frocks and bonnets? What relevance does all this old literature have on our lives today? What, indeed, has Jane Austen ever done for us?

She’s on the new £10 note, which is released into the wild by the Bank of England today, the anniversary of her death, though it’s likely to be another couple of months before the new polymer tenner finds its way into your purse. Since Winston Churchill replaced Elizabeth Fry on the fiver, it means that Jane Austen – accompanied by a quote from Pride and Prejudice, “I declare after all there is no enjoyment but reading!” – will be the only woman apart from the Queen currently on British legal tender.


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