In the wake of Caroline Criado-Perez’s inevitable yet pathetic – and Pyrrhic – victory in shaming the Bank of England to put Jane Austen on £10 banknotes in 2017, and the ensuing predictable Twitter storm which played into the hands of feminists seeking censorship on Twitter and other social media – as it was intended to do – let’s consider the issue of the merit of Jane Austen replacing one of the greatest scientists of the Victorian era, Charles Darwin, on the banknote.
Well, feminists aren’t keen on merit as a reason for advancement, so you can see why Jane Austen would be a natural feminist icon. Two excerpts from her letters, cited in ‘Jane Austen’s Letters (1952), in Oxford Book of Quotations:
I think I may boast myself to be, with all possible vanity, the most unlearned and uninformed female who ever dared to be an authoress. (Letter, 11 December 1815)
How horrible it is to have so many people killed! And what a blessing that one cares for none of them! (Letter to Cassandra Austen, 31 May 1811, after the Battle of Albuera, 16 May 1811.)
As a female author, Austen won’t be criticised by feminists. But what about normal women, most notably those with an in-depth knowledge of literature? That’s another matter altogether. One such woman is clearly Frances Wilson, Literary Critic of the Daily Mail:
A short section from the piece:
Austen, who died in 1817 at the age of 41, was the daughter of a Hampshire rector. She wrote six novels about well-to-do families in, for the most part, rural England.
The books are regularly lauded as among the finest in the English language. Fans find them bright and breezy, charming and romantic. In fact, they are boring, nasty and superficial.
The virgin from the vicarage is perfectly placed on a tenner — there could be no better home for her than the comfort of the cash-register.