Last week the Bank of England brought in a new £10.00 note. It is smaller, more durable, and harder to counterfeit than the old version. But for literary types its main significance is that it features two women: the Queen (as usual) on the front, and the novelist Jane Austen on the back. In fact the note was officially launched from her old home in Chawton, Hampshire, on July 18th, exactly 200 years after her death in nearby Winchester.
The note includes a quote from her most famous book, Pride and Prejudice, “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading.” (Let’s not spoil it by pointing out that this was said by a vain and snobbish young lady purely interested in capturing the attention of a more erudite and wealthy young man).
What a casual reader may not know is that Jane Austen was not just a provincial spinster, scribbling away between the social calls and household duties expected of a woman of her social class and limited finances. Her portrait on the new note is particularly appropriate as she also had close links to banking. One of her brothers (Henry) owned a number of small banks, run from his headquarters in London and Jane often stayed with him at his London house. A £10.00 note issued by one of his banks is on display in the Chawton cottage where she lived, which is open to the public.
But, although the announcement of this new note’s design was made in her old home, no mention was made of her banker brother. He was not a good businessman, suffered losses in the financial crash of 1816, and his banking empire was subsequently taken over by others and forgotten.
Jane Austen is celebrated for her novels about the eager pursuit of suitable husbands for her heroines. Less romantically, they also illustrate her keen interest in the pursuit of a suitable income. In her own life she was acutely conscious of her lack of means, and took an active interest in the sale of her manuscripts, often with Henry’s well meaning, but not always helpful advice. (You can read more about this aspect of Jane’s life in Jane Austen: The Banker’s Sister, by EJ Clery)
Which brings me, rather clumsily, to my own books. I write because I feel the need to write. I do not expect to live off my royalties, but, like Jane I take an interest in my ‘bottom line’, and every sale is a welcome acknowledgement of my efforts. (Reviews are also welcome, even low starred ones). All my books are available on Amazon, as e-books and / or paperbacks, and you can purchase them via one of the links below: