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July 24, 2013

Writer Jane Austen to appear on 10-pound banknote

LONDON — Jane Austen will appear on Britain's next 10-pound note, ensuring at least one female historical figure is represented on the currency in circulation.

The Bank of England plans to issue the new note with the early 19th-century novelist in 2016 or 2017, the 200th anniversary of her death. The central bank said Wednesday the note will include a quote from her book "Pride and Prejudice": "I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!"

Austen's appearance follows concerns that Britain would have no female historical figures on the reverse of banknotes. The BOE plans to replace Elizabeth Fry, a 19th-century social reformer who features on the current five-pound note, with former Prime Minister Winston Churchill starting in 2016. While the queen appears on the front of the notes as the sovereign, the back has included historical figures since 1970.

"Jane Austen certainly merits a place in the select group of historical figures to appear on our banknotes," BOE Governor Mark Carney said in the statement. "She is recognized as one of the greatest writers in English literature." Her appearance ensures that "our notes will celebrate a diverse range of individuals who have contributed in a wide range of fields."

In the statement, the BOE said the Austen note will be issued "within a year of the Churchill five-pound note, which is targeted for issue during 2016." It noted concerns about diversity and said "it was never the bank's intention that none of the four characters on our notes would be a woman."

Carney said the BOE will review its selection process for figures on notes and seek feedback from the public.

The Austen note will feature an illustration of Elizabeth Bennet, the heroine of "Pride and Prejudice," and a background design based on Austen's writing table.

Carney's predecessor, Mervyn King, had hinted at Austen's inclusion on a banknote last month, when he said she was a "clear candidate." She was a backup figure in case of any problems with the Churchill design and was "quietly waiting in the wings" to be on the next note, King said.

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