jane austen books

There is no question that Jane Austen is rooted firmly in our hearts as one of the greatest novelists of all time – not ‘among the greatest living authors’ though you understand – following a somewhat unfortunate slip of the tongue by MP, Andrea Leadsom, as she spoke in Parliament last week following the unveiling of the new £10 note.

The only woman to appear on a UK banknote, other than the Queen herself, Austen’s portrait celebrates the 200th year since her death. During her 41 years, Austen penned some of the greatest literary classics, from Sense & Sensibility to Pride & Prejudice and her satire of the gothic genre, Northanger Abbey. Her characters too, precede her death from one of the greatest fictional heart-throbs famously played on screen by Colin Firth, Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy, to the erudite Emma in her novel of the same name, and not forgetting the pompous and unsavoury Caroline Bingley in Pride & Prejudice.

jane austen books

In fact, it is this latter character that has received rather a lot of attention in these past few days following the new unveiling. Alongside the outrage that many claim Ms Austen has in fact been airbrushed on the new £10 note, the accompanying quote “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading”, has received widespread criticism too. Spoken by Charles Bingley’s sister, Caroline, it is a sentence rather meant with irony, than a true declaration of reading.

In an attempt to impress herself upon Mr Darcy, Caroline Bingley picks up the second volume to the book he is reading. She is described by Austen as giving a great yawn and “quite exhausted by the attempt to be amused with her own book” as she declares: “How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library,” before throwing the book aside in search of a new amusement.

jane austen tenner

Despite this controversial quote however, the new £10 note – to be introduced into circulation in September this year – has also received praise. Not only through the selection of its patron, but for its tactile features which will help the blind and visually impaired to better identify their money thanks to the inclusion of the raised dots, similar to that of braille.

So, whilst it will showcase the somewhat insincere words of Caroline Bingley, it is the face of this most beloved author that we must celebrate and remember, for two centuries after her untimely death, her words and wisdom continue to be enjoyed and devoured to this day.

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