The author finally graces the £10 note...but why has she been airbrushed?
The Bank of England's decision to feature author Jane Austen on ten pound notes was a huge step for the representation of women and the recognition that her works have played a valuable role in the country's heritage. A high-profile campaign began back in April to show the 19th century author on the currency after it was noted that apart from Queen Elizabeth there were no notable women featured on the British notes or coins.
Tomorrow, is it fair to ask people to work for their dole money? & has Jane Austen been sexed up on a new banknote? pic.twitter.com/A9PR959ZSn— The Wright Stuff (@5WrightStuff) October 30, 2013
The campaign was successful and it was announced that Austen, who died in 1817, would replace Charles Darwin. However, now the note's design has finally been unveiled, many have noticed that the author, who wrote Pride and Prejudice, seems to have been airbrushed and altered to look more conventionally attractive than the 1810 portrait Jane's sister Cassandra drew.
The Bank of England have said that the banknote portrait was based on a 1870 engraving commissioned by Austen's nephew, James Edward Austen Leigh, adapted from Cassandra's original sketch. Dr Byrne, author of The Real Jane Austen, said the chosen image made Austen look like "a pretty doll with big doe eyes."
"It's a 19th Century airbrushed makeover," he said. "It makes me quite angry as it's been prettied up for the Victorian era when Jane Austen was very much a woman of Georgian character. The costume is wrong and the image creates a myth Austen was a demure spinster and not a deep-thinking author." "She was edgy for her time and the portrait by her sister Cassandra depicts an intelligent, determined woman," he added, via BBC News.
However, Elizabeth Proudman, chairman of the Jane Austen Society, defended the note's design and said the Bank of England had done the best it could. "There is only one authentic image available of Jane Austen and that is the pencil sketching by her sister that hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. It's an amateur portrait and, at the time, nobody particularly liked it."
She added "But, Jane Austen's fame and popularity grew after her death and an engraving of Cassandra's portrait was produced by [William Home] Lizars to go inside her memoirs. The family chose it, feeling it was a strong resemblance and that is more or less the image which has been chosen."
The note is expected to enter circulation in 2017.