Jane Austen to replace Darwin on the 10-pound note. You vote on the issue!

Well, the Days of Charles regnant on Britain’s £10 note are coming to an end. According to the BBC, the Guardian, and many other sources, in 2017 Darwin’s note will be deep-sixed and replaced by Jane Austen on the tenner. This is intended to remedy a lack of women on British banknotes. Although Elizabeth Fry has been on the fiver since 2002, she’ll be replaced by Winston Churchill in 2016.

While I applaud the initiative to call attention to the achievements of British women (that doesn’t include the Queen, who is on every note and achieved that through no effort of her own), I am distressed that Darwin’s bill will be defunct, and he’ll become an ex-biologist who sings with the choir invisible. Can’t they keep him permanently and put Austen (or, better yet, George Eliot, who wrote the best Victorian novel, Middlemarch) on some other note? Why not replace John Houblon on the £50 note, for instance? Does anybody even know who John Houblon was?

Take a last look at Chuck’s note.


There was a commemorative two-pound Darwin coin issued in 2009. I have a specimen, and it’s great. Imagine something like this appearing in the U.S, with Darwin juxtaposed with a chimp. No way!

Darwin coin 2009

And his replacement note, which you must admit is nice:

Jane Austen banknote

I’ve suggested a number of alternative strategies that will keep our hero on the tenner while giving women their due.  Vote (once please) for your alternative, and if you don’t like any of these, add your preference in the comments. Results will be visible after you vote.

h/t: David, Diana, Grania


  1. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    I picked replacing Queenie just because it was cheeky and suits my anti-monarchy stance.

    However, it would be nice to work Mary Shelley into the mix because Frankenstein is a great gothic novel and I always feel so bad for “the wretch”.

    • jesperbothpedersen1
      Posted July 27, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      I picked replacing Queenie just because it was cheeky and suits my anti-monarchy stance.


    • Marella
      Posted July 27, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      Me too.

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted July 27, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      I say replace the queen with Freddie Mercury and Queen.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 27, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

        Ha ha! Freddie Mercury on money would be awesome!

    • teacupoftheapocalypse
      Posted July 29, 2013 at 5:16 am | Permalink

      Darwin is depicted with a hummingbird and a magnifying glass, and other figures on UK notes are also shown with some element of their life’s work. So if Mary Shelley, would you include Adam, who is, after all, a male character?

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 29, 2013 at 5:49 am | Permalink

        Aww the poor “wretch”. I remember the bad 1994 movie version where I warned my friend, “if you cry during the scene where “the wretch” meets the blind peasant, I’m walking out”. Then we almost cried at how bad the movie was at depicting the sadness of the novel.

        I think having nothing would be apt since he really had no name but I’m sure they’d put writing accoutrements for Shelley.

  2. Grania Spingies
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    I’m torn about this one – I really wish that they had decided to keep Darwin, and booted someone else off instead to make way for Jane Austen. I think it is a very bad idea to put any politician onto bank notes ever, so putting Austen where Churchill is supposed to go would be the ideal solution.

    Jane Austen and George Eliot are both favorite authors for me, but George Sand has been somewhat of a personal heroine of mine for wearing trousers and smoking when women just didn’t do that sort of thing and earning the ire of Right Thinking Men. I even have a copy of Marianne on my bookshelves somewhere.

    • Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Georges Eliot and Sand would just confuses people…


      • Sastra
        Posted July 27, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

        French George Sand (Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, Baronne Dudevant) on a British note would be even more confusing.

    • chemicalscum
      Posted July 27, 2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      George Eliot would be great as she was also Darwin’s favourite novelist and a personal acquaintance. She was an atheist and translated Fuerbach’s Essence of Christianity into english.

      In 1874 Darwin, George Eliot and her partner George Lewes attended a seance and Darwin’s brother Erasmus’s house. The three of them were the sceptics in the group.

    • Dave
      Posted July 27, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      “… it is a very bad idea to put any politician onto bank notes ever” Why?

      • BillyJoe
        Posted July 27, 2013 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

        Half the population hates any politician you might name.

        • Posted July 28, 2013 at 7:40 am | Permalink

          Not always. India has had Mahatma Gandhi on all its currency notes for quite some time and it has worked great. On the other hand, this policy has also prevented Indian politicians from extending to the domain of currency notes their propensity for pasting their names (and the names of their sons, daughters, mothers, aunts, uncles and so on) over every piece of public property.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 1:39 am | Permalink

      That George Eliot was a member of the distaff half was, I’ve long felt, cancelled out in its own way by Evelyn Waugh being a man. Since discovering that George Sand also was a woman, however, I’ve been waiting in vain for another guy to make the literati scene by the name of Evelyn.

      • Posted July 28, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        There’s a sociological law that where a name comes to be used by females, it ceases to be used by males. This has happened to Hilary, Beverley, Evelyn, Robin and more. Parents of boys have a fear of “femininity”.

        • Posted July 29, 2013 at 12:03 am | Permalink

          Has this happened, in the U.S., to Leslie? (In the UK, we have differential spellings: Leslie for men, Lesley for women. But I don’t think the -ey spelling is used in the U.S.)


  3. Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    The Bank of Canada regularly issues specialty quarters and $1 coins (called loonies, since the original coin had bird called a loon on one side), with all sorts of different images on them (eg. Olympic set, Remembrance Day, etc.) for general circulation.

    A) Is there any reason why the Bank of England can’t do something similar to honor it’s heritage.


    B) Is there any reason why they can’t do the same thing with their notes? So issue different notes every year honoring different historical figures?

    Then everyone wins.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      Then everyone wins.

      How Canadian of you 🙂

      Maybe with less frequency than Canada. The coins change so often I wonder if I’m using real or counterfeit currency sometimes. 🙂

    • Posted July 27, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      Well, we do have a Canadian to blame for this decision!

    • Barney
      Posted July 27, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      They do already – the £2 coin, as well as Darwin in 2009, has had 100th anniversary of Marconi sending radio across the Atlantic, 50 years since the discovery of the form of DNA, 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, and many more: http://www.royalmint.com/en/discover/uk-coins/coin-design-and-specifications/two-pound-coin . The 50p piece also commemorates various events: http://www.royalmint.com/discover/uk-coins/coin-design-and-specifications/fifty-pence-coin (the £1 coin tends to have symbols of the 4 nations of the UK).

      I think, with notes, a change too often might cause confusion, either among people, or note-recognising machines, either of which go on the design (as oppose to coins being mainly by size, whether human or machine).

      • Posted July 27, 2013 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

        When the Queen eventually dies, they’ll have to change the notes anyway, putting the face of her successor on them. Considering that there are several types of notes in circulation already (eg. Scotland), I don’t think they would cause that much confusion.

        It’s all a matter of the security features.

  4. Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    There was a bit of a push to get Alan Turing on the tenner. Then the sudden lack of women on notes was noted, and someone suggested Ada Lovelace. I think even Turing himself would have admitted that Lovelace trumped him. But Austen isn’t a terrible choice. Would have been nice to have the tenner reserved for scientists, though.

  5. Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Keep Darwin and add a tortoise in the empty oval.
    Replace Churchill with Beatrix Potter (and one of her natural history drawings, NOT Peter Rabbit).

  6. barlofontain
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    We constantly change who appears on our currency. I remember similar feelings when Isaac Newton was replaced on the £5 note. At least Darwin is one of the few to have been on a note and a coin.

    Personally I’m waiting for the David Beckham £20…

    • Dave Weaver
      Posted July 27, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      I thought Newton appeared on the last 1 pound note before we switched to one pound coins.

      • Jeremy Pereira
        Posted July 28, 2013 at 3:36 am | Permalink

        This is true. Newton was the last person on the £1 note. But they botched it by putting the Sun at the centre of the elipse of Earth’s orbit

        We’ve also had Michael Faraday on the £20.

  7. Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Being a republican (NOT a gop pervert) the choice is easy: replace the queen by some one else (I don’t care much with whom), and to keep Darwin.

  8. Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Have mixtures of both – Jane Austen is a very popular author and her novels are interesting and fun. I can’t see why we can’t have in simultaneous circulation some notes with Austen, some with Darwin and others with other British notables.

    • Nick Evans
      Posted July 29, 2013 at 5:27 am | Permalink

      There will be simultaneous circulation of Austen and Darwin for a while, until the Darwin notes get too tatty to be reused. Other British notables are on other British notes, and also get regularly recycled.

      To answer the OP, John Houblon was the first Governor of the Bank of England, so it makes sense that they’d want him on one of their notes. Not that you ever see a £50 note in day-to-day life. And he’s being replaced by James Watt.

  9. Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    I know it is merely for fun here, but because it is of interest to me, the problem with the voting alternatives here (as are so many surveys) is that the options don’t cover the alternatives but reflect the bias of the person who set it up. It reminds me a bit of “you vote – was Jesus just a good man, totally deluded idiot or god?”

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      I fail to see what is wrong with your Jesus-poll.

      • Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

        I’d be unable to honestly answer; Jesus, as with all other Classical Mediterranean deities, is an entirely fictional figure.


        • Dave
          Posted July 27, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

          Entirely fictional? No chance some raving delusional itinerant preacher managed to collect a few outcasts around him and have the whole thing snowball into what we have today?

          • Posted July 27, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

            That’s like suggestion Harry Potter might not be entirely fictional just because there once was a teenage orphan that went to a mixed boarding school and became friends with a red-headed boy and a swotty girl.


            • Dave
              Posted July 27, 2013 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

              No, Ant, it isn’t. We know from where the Harry Potter story comes, and from whom. (We just don’t know who may have written other novels floating around out there!)

              • Posted July 27, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

                Yes, it is. Just because we know the provenance of Harry Potter doesn’t change the analogy.


              • Dave
                Posted July 27, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

                Arrrrgh! I can’t reply under Ant’s as we’ve run out of indentation levels. Anyway, and most respectfully, we disagree. Completely. Established source (provenance is not really the right word) is the entire argument! 🙂

              • Posted July 27, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

                No. It. Isnt.


              • Gary W
                Posted July 27, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

                If a fictional character is based on a real person in significant respects, I don’t think it makes sense to claim the character is “entirely” fictional, whether it’s Jesus, Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, or whoever.

              • Posted July 27, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

                There goes Gary again with his absolutist nonsense. Were this a century ago, he’d be leading the charge of the “one drop” brigade.

                But Gary, don’t you know? Santa is real! Of course, he’s tall and only somewhat overweight. And clean-shaven. Never wears red; he thinks it makes him look fat. He’s allergic to reindeer, too, sad to say. And he lives year-round in Florida — he’s retired, don’t you know. Hates kids, as well, and has never given any child a Christmas present since he was forced to in third grade; he’s Jewish, so it’s not as weird as it might sound. And his name’s Harold, not Chris. Last name Weisenstein. Sold derivatives before he retired. No mechanical aptitude whatsoever.

                But he’s the real Santa!

                Because, you know, by your logic, Luke Skywalker was (ostensibly) human and had a common given name and spoke English, so he’s clearly not 100% fictional! I mean, humans and “Luke” and English are all real, so anything that includes real elements like that can’t be pure fiction!

                <sigh />


              • Gary W
                Posted July 27, 2013 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

                Shorter Ben Goren: I have no response to what you actually wrote, so I’ll pretend you wrote something else and respond to that instead.

          • Posted July 27, 2013 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

            The random wacko nutjob Jesus theory fails on every level.

            First, there isn’t even a hint of positive evidence for it.

            Next, we have volumes of evidence for Jesus, and, in all of them, he’s very clearly a supernatural figure in a fictional account. (The Gospels all use third person omniscient perspective, including reports on what the characters are secretly thinking. And they’re full of all sorts of other bog-standard literary fiction devices. Worse, they detail all sorts of “factual” incidents that are entirely unremarked upon by contemporary chroniclers that could not possibly have been overlooked.)

            If you keep digging, you quickly find that the notion of Jesus as anything other than some sort of divine being would have been regarded as the ultimate and unthinkable heresy.

            When the very earliest Christians wrote of Jesus, they went to great pains to detail all the ways in which he was indistinguishable from all the pagan demigods of the era. See especially Justin Martyr.

            Add it all up, and the only conclusion that even remotely makes sense is that Jesus is, indeed, a syncretic pagan demigod indistinguishable from all the others — and no more based on a real person than Orpheus or Dionysus or Osiris or Mitra or any of the rest.



            • Dave
              Posted July 27, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

              Except that, today, we are not dominated and threatened by cults of “Orpheus or Dionysus or Osiris or Mitra or any of the rest.” There has to be some reason that this one prevailed. That is not to say there should be any divinity or anything else special ascribed to this one – just good marketing!

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 27, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

                I blame Constantine. The other eastern mystery cults didn’t have such an influential patron.

                I could be wrong…there were probably other reasons but Constantine seems like a good answer – and look, doesn’t this guy seem like trouble? He had a colossal statue! I once described the Colossal Head of Constantine as having frog eyes. I then imagined him telling me off in Latin: non appellare me ranae oculae, puella pallida! Translation: Don’t call me frog eyes, white girl!

                Yeah, a guy like that would definitely screw us over with Christianity! 😀

              • Posted July 27, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

                Now you’re just showing off! 😉


              • Dave
                Posted July 27, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

                Diana says, “I blame Constantine.” No kidding. More to my point about marketing: the ultimate: you MUST believe it! Let’s hope Gates never gets a hold of that one!! 😀

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 27, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

                Well, I simplified things about Constantine mostly to get my frog eyes joke in. 😀 I would quibble over “marketing” as this suggests there was some sort of institution that had a plan to spread Christianity. While consensus about what allowed Christianity to flourish while other mystery cults fell by the wayside, there is agreement that there was both stuff about Christianity (e.g.: demanding worship of one god while other mystery cults didn’t require exclusive membership, people feeling more in a community than other cults) and stuff about the couple hundred years it too get to Constantine (Rome letting it exist perhaps being one – despite what Christians like to think, Roman persecution of Christians was sporadic and only under a couple emperors).

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 27, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

                Oops I mean “while there is no consensus”. I got lost in clauses and parentheses.

              • Dave
                Posted July 27, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

                Diana: “I would quibble over “marketing” as this suggests there was some sort of institution that had a plan to spread Christianity.” Isn’t that exactly what Constantine did?

                “Roman persecution of Christians was sporadic” This made me smile. If you’ve visited the Colosseum you probably noticed the brass plaque lamenting the execution of Xians there. Considering they thought it appropriate only to remember the Xians, my first (rather guilty) thought was, “you missed some!” Awful, I know. And I have no one to ask for redemption!

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 27, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

                Who knows what Constantine was thinking with Christianity, but I don’t think he was doing anything for Christianity’s sake. It’s questionable whether he was a even a true believer.

              • Posted July 27, 2013 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

                Please feel free to ask me for redemption; I’ll happily oblige.

                Of course, my fees ain’t cheap. On the other hand, I can absolutely guarantee that your money won’t go to fund an international child rape racket.

                Or you can head down the street to Our Lady Of The Unavailable Contraception, where Father Bob will redeem you for a fiver in the kitty (or a sneering look behind your back if you don’t tip). Your choice.


      • Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:29 am | Permalink

        It omits, “a fiction”.


  10. teacupoftheapocalypse
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    The decision to keep at least one female figure on UK banknotes was, at least in part, thanks to an online petition instigated by
    Caroline Criado-Perez. Sadly, since the announcement that Austen would, in due course, be replacing Darwin, she has been subject to a seemingly orchestrated Twitter campaign of abuse and threats, including rape, from men. The powers that be at Twitter also seem to be lamentably apathetic about this. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23477130

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      There are so many strange people out there. Rape threats, really? How awful for her!

      • Richard Olson
        Posted July 27, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink

        And still so many refuse to understand that rape is about things dominant, also often violent, and only tangentially (if at all) sexual. Societal attitude is no small component of rape.

        • Gary W
          Posted July 27, 2013 at 11:27 am | Permalink

          And still so many refuse to understand that rape is about things dominant, also often violent, and only tangentially (if at all) sexual

          Steven Pinker, among others, says you’re wrong about that.

          • Richard Olson
            Posted July 27, 2013 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

            My understanding of Pinker’s thesis is that it is a determination that rape is a biologically natural sexual act based on evolutionarily pre-civilization propagation behaviors … when and if no other options exist for the male. Emphasis on pre-civilization, hierarchical clan/tribal mating selection processes.

            Even if it was ever biologically imperative for the survival of Homo sapiens for males to force copulation with females — and I admit I don’t know if it was or was not — it was an act of force then, it was a violation of individual human’s dignity and sanctity, and none of those things has changed since.

            Even so. Perhaps my claim that rape is violence utilized to exert control/dominance over victims is all or in part in error, and instead some/most/all contemporary acts of rape stem solely from a reproduction imperative; I acknowledge that I am too ignorant on the subject to debate that point.

            However, the social media rape threats directed toward Criado-Perez indicate, as does the way society deals with rape events worldwide (repugnant officially sanctioned practices in some Islamic and Hindu societies, and also tacit approval in advanced places like the USA e.g., see recent USC and Yale institutional rape policy actions), seem to me to go a long way toward explaining how persistent rape culture continues to be a human affliction that causes immense and (mostly) avoidable suffering.

            Rape progeny are not now necessary for survival of the species, whether they ever were or at not. For millennium (at least) an act at a bare minimum abhorrent and inexcusable, rape culture presently exists –persists — because it is tolerated. Concerted anti=rape societal attitude is required to change this.

            • Richard Olson
              Posted July 27, 2013 at 8:49 pm | Permalink


            • Gary W
              Posted July 27, 2013 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

              Steven Pinker, in The Blank Slate:

              I believe that the rape-is-not-about-sex doctrine will go down in history as an example of extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds. It is preposterous on the face of it, does not deserve its sanctity, is contradicted by a mass of evidence, and is getting in the way of the only morally relevant goal surrounding rape, the effort to stamp it out.

            • Jonathan Wallace
              Posted July 27, 2013 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

              “Even if it was ever biologically imperative for the survival of Homo sapiens for males to force copulation with females”

              I don’t think the argument is that forced copulations were/are ever necessary for the survival of the species – there are more than enough unforced copulations to achieve that. The argument is that some males that failed to secure a willing mate might seek to achieve the propagation of their own genes by raping an unwilling partner.

              That said, rape is a detestable crime that is never justified whatever evolutionary, psychological or sociological explanations one may apply to why it occurs.

  11. bonetired
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    I would love Darwin to continue to be honoured but it isn’t going to happen. The BofE has a policy of cycling its images every few years (mainly for security reasons) and they have decided that Charles’s time is up….

    However… that does mean that there will be no scientists on BofE notes for the foreseeable future (I am excluding James Watt for the very simple reason: I haven’t seen a £50 note for years!)

    • Jeremy Pereira
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 3:43 am | Permalink

      And James Watt was an engineer.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted July 28, 2013 at 5:07 am | Permalink

        Presumably sufficiently scientific to have a unit of power named after him. (Though I’m not a James Watt fan, if they were going to honour an engineer I’d sooner it was George Stephenson…)

    • Hempenstein
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 5:14 am | Permalink

      Yet the BofE will let the monarch park on their notes forever. (Sweden has a monarch, but except for the then-rarely-seen 10,000 Kr note a couple of commemoratives, and perhaps the 10Kr note in the last years of Gustaf VI Adolf (who was an archaeologist)I don’t think they’ve ever put a reigning monarch on their notes.

  12. bonetired
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Dammit …

    Meant to add: suitable choices to replace Darwin?

    Personally I would go for James Clarke Maxwell …. (Newton has already been done!)

    • Veroxitatis
      Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink


  13. Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I’m equal parts very annoyed at Darwin being removed and very excited about Austen appearing- it’s ridiculous to put Churchill in the mix when Darwin Needs to be there!

  14. Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    One can argue that by 2017 Darwin will have had a long run, 17 years, longer than Newton and Faraday got (10 years), so it’s fair enough.

    Pedantic quibbles:

    … on Britain’s £10 note …

    This is the English note, Scottish notes are different (currently including Fleming).

    … Why not replace John Houblon on the £50 note, for instance?

    Already replaced by James Watt and Matthew Boulton. Though no-one ever uses £50 notes these days, since cards are safer for high-value transactions.

  15. Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    oh, how depressing, I’m reading through the other comments now and have just read about the revolting threats Caroline Criado-Perez has been receiving. It was a great campaign, I supported it and would again but why can’t Austen go on the fiver? That would be much better anyway because she’d get seen much more often- and importantly probably much more often by children too as they’re more likely to receive lower denomination notes for pocket money/birthdays.

    • Mal
      Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      Cash machines rarely dispense fivers so the ten pound note is actually more common.

      I am disappointed that Alan Turing was passed over but am glad that there will be a woman on one of our notes (I hope the suggestion about Thatcher was a joke).

      • bonetired
        Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:57 am | Permalink

        As was my voting for her!

      • BillyJoe
        Posted July 27, 2013 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

        Yes, the suggestion for Thatcher was an obvious joke.

      • Filippo
        Posted July 28, 2013 at 1:31 am | Permalink

        Were Alan Turing featured, perhaps in a corner of the note should be placed some symbol of chemical castration and a cyanide-laced syringe sticking out of an apple, lest the casual observer be otherwise led to believe that England’s attitude toward Turing was one of total omnibenevolence.

        • Mal
          Posted July 28, 2013 at 1:43 am | Permalink

          I think the point of a stamp would be to honour Turing rather than t record the disgraceful way he was treated. Many people are still aware of his contribution to science and to the Allied war effort.

          There has already been a pretty abject apology to him by the then Prime Minister in Pariament:

          • Mal
            Posted July 28, 2013 at 1:44 am | Permalink

            That should be unaware.

            • Mal
              Posted July 28, 2013 at 1:47 am | Permalink

              I should give up commenting. The statement should have been in Parliament but was actually on the PM’s website.

  16. Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Whilst I love seeing Darwin on tenners, he has been on notes for the longest of the current faces, so it is only right for him to be replaced first (this is with the exception of £50 which nobody uses day to day).

    • Veroxitatis
      Posted July 27, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      I am not sure I agree with the point about use of £50.00 notes. They are routinely available from ATM’s in Aberdeen.

      • Jonathan Wallace
        Posted July 27, 2013 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

        Must be all those high rolling oil-men that use them!

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted July 28, 2013 at 3:38 am | Permalink

        The trouble is:
        1. No-one accepts them, presuming them to be forgeries.
        2. Therefore they are rare.
        3. Therefore no-one knows what they look like. 4. Therefore, see 1 above.

  17. Acleron
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    I vaguely disliked Darwin being replaced especially by a writer of fiction. But the quite disgusting tirades of threats on Twitter against the woman who proposed this means I now firmly support the change. We must not allow the brain dead bigots to win.

    • BillyJoe
      Posted July 27, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I agree. Jane Austen must get on the note now if only for that very reason

      • Posted July 28, 2013 at 7:32 am | Permalink

        But why only Jane Austen? As someone suggested below, it does look like a clear case of tokenism when a well known scientist is replaced by a romantic novelist. Why not Rosalind Franklin or Dorothy Hodgkin?

        • Posted July 28, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink

          Read my blog, you have no clue about Jane Austen! She was actually a radical feminist, who wrote her message covertly, precisely because of the abuse she would have caught if she had been overt.

          She is the perfect person to be on the Note, PLUS Darwin himself LOVED her writing!

          Learn some history!

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted July 28, 2013 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

            You’re saying she was a radical feminist who hid her message, so how could her message have had any influence? (Quite aside from the suggestion of timidity on her part). That really doesn’t sound to me like the sort of thing that would qualify her for prominence.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted July 28, 2013 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

        That’s a really really bad reason. Agreed anyone who makes rape threats over that is an idiot, but I can’t think of a worse reason for selecting a candidate.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted July 28, 2013 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

          Damn, and that was in reply to BillyJoe. WP’s nesting confounds me again.

  18. Veroxitatis
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Mary Slessor, missionary to Nigeria and contemporary of David Livingstone has been on Scottish Clydesdale £10.00 notes since 2000.

  19. Howard Kornstein
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Arguably the greatest scientist of all time replaced by a female romantic novelist…. sounds a bit like politically correct tokenism to me.

    My suggested comprise… get rid of the Queen’s portrait on the tenner and put Austin on the opposite to Darwin…. a win-win-win solution on all fronts

  20. Gary W
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    I hate to see Darwin go, but Britain has many worthy candidates for this honor. It would be great to see Alan Turing, for example.

    Why can’t they have multiple versions of each denomination of banknote, with a different figure on each version? Too confusing, perhaps.

    The imaginative designs and use of color in British currency, and foreign currency in general, puts ours to shame.

    • jesperbothpedersen1
      Posted July 27, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      I hate to see Darwin go, but Britain has many worthy candidates for this honor. It would be great to see Alan Turing, for example.

      Great idea. Alan Turing is most certainly a worthy replacement and it would be a nice gesture in honour of his legacy.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 3:42 am | Permalink

      Here’s a cool idea for the US: differing size notes for different denominations.

      • Latverian Diplomat
        Posted July 28, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

        Not just a cool idea, it’s actually an effective countermeasure against counterfeiting.

        The US has put other measures in place, but it used to be that the best raw material for counterfeiting a US $20 was a bleached out US $1.

  21. Faustus
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Why not put Rosalind Franklin on the note? A great female scientist.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 3:42 am | Permalink


  22. lanceleuven
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I’m sad to see Darwin go (having him on the tenner has long been something I’m proud of) but the whole honour is one of revolving doors so he was never going to be there indefinitely. On the plus side, I think it’s great that the Bank of England have responded to the feedback when it was announced that the only woman on the notes was to be removed and worked to find a compromise. Fair play to them I say.

  23. Zwirko
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    I fondly remember the Jack Niklaus five pound note we had a while back. Not seen one in circulation for a good while though.

  24. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    George Eliot is of course an important figure in the history of rationalism and freethought, even if she is not as hugely popular as Jane Austen.

    Her novels and stories have interesting portraits of both good and bad clergy, but above all she translated into English both David Strauss’ “The Life of Jesus Critically Examined” the first major book to challenge accepted Biblical narrative (unless you count the Jefferson Bible) and Ludwig Feuerbach’s “The Essence of Christianity” a groundbreaking psychological examination of the internal tensions in Christian belief.

  25. Celtic Atheist
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Afraid you didn’t include the option I would have gone for: the Queen should be replaced by Darwin on ALL notes and coins she currently occupies.

  26. Daryl
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    As they once had Florence Nightingale on a note I think Mary Seacole would be a good choice. An extraordinary woman.

  27. Dave
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Jane Austen? Virginia Woolf!

  28. BillyJoe
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    My first thought was – Kate bush!
    Bear with me.
    In my mind, I formed word associations while reading this post…which led me to think about a Kate Bush song that ends…

    Ooh, there goes a tenner.
    Hey, look! There’s a fiver.
    There’s a ten-shilling note.
    Remember them?
    That’s when we used to vote for him.

    Get it?
    Also, I’m an Australian, and Kate sings that song in an Australian accent. In fact the album is entitled “The Dreaming”, a reference to an Australian Aboriginal legend.

    So I vote Kate Bush to replace Winston Churchill!

    Okay, I need to wake up and go run up my hill…

    • jesperbothpedersen1
      Posted July 27, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      Okay, I need to wake up and go run up my hill…

      Wouldn’t that require you to make a deal with God?

      • BillyJoe
        Posted July 27, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

        I see you’re on track. (:

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 27, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

        ….and with no problems as well.

        • BillyJoe
          Posted July 27, 2013 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

          …but please tell me you prefer the original Kate Bush version to the Placebo imitation.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted July 28, 2013 at 6:40 am | Permalink

            I didn’t know there was a placebo….I liked 80s Kate Bush – Cloudbusting, Experiment IV. Those were awesome videos in the day of music videos. Especially cool was that Donald Sutherland was in Cloudbusting.

    • BillyJoe
      Posted July 27, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      …just want to add

      “The Dreaming” is my favourite most eccentric and underrated album of all time. It contains the absolutely beautiful song “Night of the Swallow”. But you have to be a Kate Bush fan to appreciate it.

    • Posted July 27, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      The problem with Kate Bush (I thought of her as well) is that living people (apart from Brenda, of course) aren’t allowed to be on banknotes. Or stamps, I believe.

      • BillyJoe
        Posted July 27, 2013 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

        Couldn’t they make an exception?

      • Posted July 28, 2013 at 12:34 am | Permalink

        The restriction on having living people (other than the monarch) on British stamps has now been relaxed. Thus, we can now have a series of stamps with all the actors who’ve played the Doctor.

        IIRC, the only living person to appear on a British stamp while the restriction was in force it was Roger Taylor, Queen’s drummer, in the background of a picture of the late Freddie Mercury. (An unnecessary controversy imo, as that is far from the best picture of Freddie they could have used.)


        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted July 28, 2013 at 5:03 am | Permalink

          Yes, but the Doctor isn’t human (so maybe doesn’t qualify as a ‘living person’?). Besides, he’s immortal, so if we had to wait till he’s dead before he can feature on a stamp we’d be waiting a long long time… in fact, given his time travelling, there may never be an era when the Doctor isn’t alive somewhere…

  29. David Hasson
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    It should be noted that the quote (I’m sure it’s meant to illustrate Austen’s wisdom) is put in the mouth of a shallow self seeking woman trying to impress the rich guy. Austen is great, and hilarious, but she really didn’t like people. More of us should read her…

  30. Griff
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Keep Darwin, replace the Queen with Austen.

  31. madscientist
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    I would bet that most people would go “Jane Who?” and continue not to read her books. Sorry Jane, you’re no Charles Darwin. If they’re going to put women on the notes, why not Dorothy Meade? Meade had made a far more valuable contribution to society than Austen.

    • madscientist
      Posted July 27, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      Sorry .. wrong Dorothy. I blame it on the delirium. I meant Hodgkin, not Meade.

    • Barney
      Posted July 27, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      Jane Austen got 3 into the top 50 ‘best-loved novels’ vote (as many as Dickens, though he also got another 2 in the next 50): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Read , including Pride and Prejudice at #2. With the TV and film adaptations, she’s very well known. Dorothy Hodgkin, sadly, is not.

  32. Posted July 27, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    It makes absolutely no difference to us Brits who’s on the notes, nobody can afford to own one.

    If we *have* to have a woman on the notes, then please let’s have someone less anodyne than the intolerable Austen, though. And if it has to be a novelist, what about Du Maurier or one of the Brontes?

    I’m going to pronounce heresy now, deliberately flying in the face of fashion: JANE AUSTEN IS UNREADABLE.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted July 27, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      Never tried reading her, but did once try Salman Rushdie (S’ic Verses, naturally) and came to that conclusion. If you’ve sampled both, who is more unreadable?

      • Posted July 28, 2013 at 1:05 am | Permalink

        Never read Satanic Verses but did read Midnight’s Children, which (although hard work to read, his style is irritatingly pompous) was actually quite entertaining – and some of the images stay with me still.

        But I read solely for entertainment nowadays, so I doubt I’ll be doing any more Rushdie – my intellectual life is hard enough mental graft without my entertainment needing to be hard work as well.

    • madscientist
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 2:27 am | Permalink

      Of course you can’t afford the notes – you’re just Not The Right Kind. Now if you were an MP you’d get a 30% salary raise just like that – after all, austerity is only for the peons.

  33. John
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    What a beautiful piece of currency. When last in London, I stashed one away to bring home, but upon leaving I was short on cab fare at Heathrow and had to use it. Bad planning, but at least that note (probably) remains in circulation rather lying about in my desk drawer.

  34. Posted July 27, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Um…why not have both faces on the bank notes? like one on each end of one side of the note?

    • Posted July 28, 2013 at 1:06 am | Permalink

      Such an egalitarian approach wouldn’t fit in with the current fascistic political climate.

  35. Peter Ozzie Jones
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    If they had a note for £500, known as a “monkey”, then Darwin would be a shoe-in?

    • Posted July 28, 2013 at 12:58 am | Permalink

      Pedant alert: the term is “shoo-in”, now go and google it. Sorry, but this mistake is one of my pet peeves. because it’s so depressingly common.

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted July 28, 2013 at 3:51 am | Permalink

        Excellent! You must be a member of the United Pedants Of The World Association (UPOTWA), which issues POTWAs (similar to fatwas) against such crimes.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 28, 2013 at 6:47 am | Permalink

          Well a shoo in for it at least. 🙂

      • Peter Ozzie Jones
        Posted July 28, 2013 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        Nope, I chose “shoe-in” from “foot in the door” meaning. Ie not a rigged competition but one where you have a good chance.

        Oh, and what is this google oracle you speake of?

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 28, 2013 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

          You could say it’s a podant alert instead of a pedant alert as a nod to the shoe mix up! 😉

          • Peter Ozzie Jones
            Posted July 29, 2013 at 2:54 am | Permalink

            Repartee is not my forte, so I’ll beg you to leave my Bunyans out of this! 😉 😉

  36. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted July 27, 2013 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    It’s not something I get a vote on. These are Bank of ENGLAND notes ; they are certainly seen on this side of the border, but they’re definitely a minority.
    Someone up-thread commented that fifties and hundreds are never used ; not true, though they’re not common. For larger debts (buying cars, paying for holidays, hotel bills), I regularly take bundles of fifties or hundreds from point A to point B. The only time I’ve had an issue was paying for some diving equipment with Scottish notes in Englandshire, and that was easily solved by “you check the notes at the post office, and bring the gear to me in Steve’s cafe when you’re happy” ; took about 20 minutes and I got a free fill off their compressor too.
    Quick check of the currency bucket … 250 NOK, 280 USD, 64k TZS, and a couple of hundred euros. What’s this problem about using multiple currencies ; I got the memo that it’s considered a problem, but didn’t understand why.

    • madscientist
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 2:30 am | Permalink

      250 NOK – that’s about enough for a pint of lager. What do those TZS get you though?

  37. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    Hmmmp. I’d vote for Mary Shelley. Wrote a far better known and more groundbreaking book, and much more entertaining too…

  38. Ed C
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 4:48 am | Permalink

    Darwin is going anyway, no point moaning about that. It’s not because the BoE don’t like him but because counterfeiters have learned to draw him. Images are rotated and colours played with (within the whole green=£5, orange=£10, purple=£20, red=£50 thing) to ensure that Britain’s thriving fraud industry is innovative and not stagnated. I’ve often wondered how the US compares to other nations in rates of fake notes since they seem to change their designs so rarely.

    Incidentally one major reason women are rarer on banknotes (apart from ingrained sexism) is that women so rarely have beards. I remember a news story when Darwin was selected that the tipping point in his favour had been his curly, wriggly beard, lots of fine detail points to trip up the unwary forger.

    I do think that Rosalind Franklin would be a good choice, cross-over of science and XX chromosomes.

  39. Posted July 28, 2013 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    As I set forth in the following post, Darwin would not have minded in the slightest, because he loved Jane Austen’s writing, and, indeed, was inspired to think outside the box about evolution, by reading Jane Austen’s outside the box obsrvations of her own social “habitat”!


  40. craigp
    Posted July 28, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    None of the above. Why Jane Austen? OK, she was/is a popular author but if it has to be a woman I can think of several others I’d nominate before Austen, eg.

    Caroline Herschel
    Elizabeth Garrett Anderson
    Dorothy Hodgkin
    Rosalind Franklin

    And I’m sure there are others that I’ve overlooked.

    • Posted July 28, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      To those who keep objecting to Jane Austen as not being worthy of depiction on the 10 pound note:

      You’re ALL wrong about Jane Austen and her importance in English history:


      • craigp
        Posted July 29, 2013 at 12:06 am | Permalink

        I didn’t see anything there that shows we’re “ALL wrong”. The article is only tenuously related to what is being discussed here. Your comment is simply a promotion of your own blog.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 28, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      Mary Shelley! Mary Shelley!

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted July 28, 2013 at 11:27 pm | Permalink


  41. Dominic
    Posted July 29, 2013 at 1:25 am | Permalink

    I feel this is a retrograde step – the arts can never match the achievements of science!

    • craigp
      Posted July 29, 2013 at 1:33 am | Permalink

      I agree. Whilst the arts contributes to people’s lives by making them feel happy, inspired, etc (religion does that for some people too) it cannot compare to the real, measurable benefits to humanity that science provides. And science’s benefits apply to everybody. It doesn’t only apply to those who like the author’s books, the painter’s paintings, or choose to believe in a particular religion.

      • Mal
        Posted July 29, 2013 at 2:10 am | Permalink

        Science keeps much of humanity alive and provides intellectual stimulation and satisfaction to many. Is life worth living without literature, art, music or, if you like, football? Without the arts and, dare I say it, entertainment, life would be pretty boring and lacking in quality. For me the only benefit of religion is that it provides some solace to the very poor. Isn’t the fact that religion flourishes in the third world evidence that all the benefits of science do not apply to everybody.

  42. Andrew Platt
    Posted July 29, 2013 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    I vote for leaving things as they are. Science and engineering is far more important than the arts.

  43. Mark
    Posted July 29, 2013 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    This is awful, and rightfully pursued by Scotland Yard:

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