If British Money Would Stop Looking So Sexist, Jane Austen Would Be on It

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Single men in possession of good fortunes will likely have yet another reason to stockpile their £10 notes: the retiring governor of the Bank of England said that Jane Austen is "quietly waiting in the wings" to become the latest historical figure displayed on UK currency, Jennifer Rankin of The Guardian reported.

The news arrives as the Bank of England is being threatened with legal action for their decision to phase out the only notes currently featuring a woman. The Observer's Elizabeth Walsh reported back in May that solicitors for "feminist campaigner" Caroline Criado-Perez "have written to the Bank accusing it of failing in its duties to eliminate gender discrimination under the Equality Act." The retiring governor, Sir Mervyn King, had announced that Winston Churchill was going to replace Elizabeth Fry, a prison reformer, on the £5 note. Others have also written to the bank with suggestions including Mary Wollenstonecraft and Ada Lovelace, according to the BBC

Though Austen would presumably replace Charles Darwin, Criado-Perez is still not content. "He is still talking in conditionals and I am afraid that is just not good enough," she told The Guardian. "It is not good enough in terms of the demands of the campaign and it is also not good enough according to the Equality Act ... which, as we have been saying all along, is about needing to know that the decision-making process is fair and equitable." 

The Churchill notes will begin appearing in 2015-16, King said per the BBC, but "it will not be the case that Elizabeth Fry disappears." Austen would only be the third fourth woman to appear on the banknotes—the Queen, Fry, and Florence Nightingale being the other three. Historical figures first started appearing in 1970. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.