New £10 note celebrating Jane Austen unveiled on 200th anniversary of her death

Chief Cashier Victoria Cleland with the new 10 note featuring Jane Austen.
Chief Cashier Victoria Cleland with the new 10 note featuring Jane Austen.

A new £10 note celebrating Jane Austen has been unveiled by the Bank of England on the 200th anniversary of the author's death.

The new tenner, which will be issued on September 14, is the first Bank of England banknote with a tactile feature to help blind and partially-sighted users.

The new 10 note featuring Jane Austen

The new 10 note featuring Jane Austen

The new tactile feature is a series of raised dots in the top left-hand corner of the banknote, developed with the help of the RNIB.

Features already incorporated into banknotes to help vision-impaired people include different sizing, bold numerals, raised print and differing colour palettes.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney unveiled the design of the new £10 banknote at Winchester Cathedral, where the Pride And Prejudice and Sense And Sensibility author was buried after her death in 1817 at the age of 41.

The design of the new note includes a portrait of Austen commissioned by her family, Austen's writing table and a quote from Pride And Prejudice: "I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!"

Mr Carney said: "Our banknotes serve as repositories of the country's collective memory, promoting awareness of the United Kingdom's glorious history and highlighting the contributions of its greatest citizens.

"The new £10 note celebrates Jane Austen's work. Austen's novels have a universal appeal and speak as powerfully today as they did when they were first published."

People can continue to spend the existing paper £10 notes for now. They will be phased out gradually as they are banked.

Legal tender status of the paper £10 featuring Charles Darwin will eventually be withdrawn in Spring 2018. The exact date will be announced at least three months in advance.

Like the £5 note already in circulation featuring Sir Winston Churchill, the new £10 banknote is made from polymer.

It is expected to last at least two-and-a-half times longer than the current paper £10 notes - around five years in total - and stay in better condition during day-to-day use.

The transition to polymer has sparked controversy after the Bank confirmed that an "extremely small amount" of tallow - or animal fat - was used to produce polymer pellets, which were part of the production process for creating the notes.

In February, the Bank took the decision that this £10 note would be manufactured on the same polymer material. At the point the decision was taken, the Bank had already printed 275 million £10 notes at a cost of £24 million.

The Bank held off signing supply contracts for the £20 polymer note featuring artist JMW Turner, which is due to be released in 2020, to better understand "the range of public opinion" surrounding the use of tallow in banknote production and explore potential plant-based substitutes like palm and coconut oil. A public consultation on the issue closed in May.

Victoria Cleland, the Bank's chief cashier, said: "The new £10 note marks the next exciting step in our introduction of cleaner, safer, stronger polymer banknotes, and I am grateful to the cash industry for their work towards a smooth transition.

"I am delighted that the Jane Austen £10 note incorporates an innovative tactile feature, which I hope will greatly benefit blind and partially sighted users."

Austen is known for providing astute insights into life through wit and social observation.

Born on December 16 1775, in Steventon, Hampshire, Austen was one of eight siblings.

She started to write short, comic stories in childhood, and her first works were published anonymously.

Sense And Sensibility was published in 1811, followed by Pride And Prejudice in 1813, originally titled First Impressions. Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey followed.

While her work gave her little personal fame during her lifetime, Austen's novels started appearing on university reading lists around the start of the 20th century, with many films later exploring the themes of her writing.

Austen died on July 18 1817.

In a private journal written in 1826, Sir Walter Scott said of Austen: "That young lady had a talent for describing the involvement and feelings and characters of ordinary life which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with... What a pity such a gifted creature died so early."