#JaneAusten200: Jane Austen is on the new UK banknote — Quartz
Historian Lucy Worsley pointed out that the famously plain author seems to have been given the “Georgian equivalent of an airbrushing.” The Bank based its design on an 1870 etching based on a purportedly more realistic portrait of Austen drawn by her sister Cassandra. The unfinished pencil-and-watercolor sketch currently displayed at London’s National Portrait Gallery depicts Austen with bags under her eyes, a pointy nose and a receding chin.
However, the portrait that’s been printed on millions of banknotes shows a prettier version, with Austen’s features softened and idealized.
Austen fans also have issues with the quotation on the banknote. Printed under Austen’s portrait, it reads, “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!” The quote isn’t exactly Austen’s endorsement of her favorite pastime, but in fact, a line uttered by one of Austen’s minor characters who actually has no interest in books.
In Pride and Prejudice, boy-crazy Caroline Bingley pretended to be an avid reader in an attempt to win the attention of the novel’s aloof hero, Mr. Darcy. In the eleventh chapter, Austen describes Bingley’s falsehood:
Miss Bingley’s attention was quite as much engaged in watching Mr. Darcy’s progress through his book, as in reading her own; and she was perpetually either making some inquiry, or looking at his page. She could not win him, however, to any conversation; he merely answered her question, and read on. At length, quite exhausted by the attempt to be amused with her own book, which she had only chosen because it was the second volume of his, she gave a great yawn and said, “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 anything than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
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