The trade is celebrating all things Jane Austen this week, as the Bank of England's new Austen £10 note makes its debut in honour of the author's 200th anniversary.
The new polymer note was unveiled on Tuesday (18th July) at Winchester Cathedral where Austen is buried. Bank of England governor Mark Carney said Austen "certainly merits a place in the select group of historical figures to appear on our banknotes", praising her novels' "enduring and universal appeal" while hailing the author herself as "one of the greatest writers in English literature".
Maddy Price, Hodder editor of Lucy Worsely, who published Jane Austen at Home this year, said the Bank of England's choice was "excellent news for a new generation of female writers and readers" and she was pleased girls would grow up seeing the face of a woman on the £10 note.
"It's fantastic that we are spending so much time with Jane in this anniversary year. I've seen lots of innovative Austen publishing in 2017, not least our own Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley. As Lucy says in her book, each generation has their own Jane, and I'm very pleased that girls will now see a £10 note featuring the face of a woman who followed her dreams and fought against the constraints of her time. I think that's excellent news for a new generation of female writers and readers," said Price.
Wordsworth Editions - which publishes a range of Austen classics - also said the note was "very appropriate" but wasn't convinced it would boost sales of her novels. "While I think it is very appropriate that Jane should appear on a bank note, such is her enduring popularity already that I doubt if it will have any specific effect," said publisher Derek Wright. Amid reports that the portrait of Austen used was an "airbrushed" version of the author, the publisher also said it had been "amused by the controversy".
A window display remembering Jane Austen at Bailey Hill Bookshop in Castle Cary
Bookseller Ben Tanter at P&G Wells, based next door to Austen's final resting place in Winchester, said he was "very glad" to see in the new note, agreeing it was a great for the book industry's profile. The shop not only has a window dedicated to Austen, but has been running a series of events throughout the summer, working closely with the Jane Austen Society.
The bookseller said he had seen an uptick in Austen-related sales, particularly in non-fiction with Worsley's title, sales of which are currently at 6,468 copies for £119,078 in hardback, Paul Byrne's The Real Jane Austen (William Collins) and Jane Austen: The Banker's Sister by literary critic and cultural historian E. J. Clery (Biteback), a book that claims to "change the way Jane Austen's life and novels are understood" and features the Austen £10 note on its front cover.
Waterstones bookshops across the country have been marking the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death by celebrating the "much beloved" author with events and displays throughout this year. Most recently, Waterstones Gower Street and Waterstones Crouch End held evening talks with Emily Midorikawa, who discussed her new book A Secret Sisterhood: The Hidden Friendships of Austen, Bronte, Eliot and Woolf (Aurum Press), whilst Waterstones Gateshead is hosting a monthly Jane Austen Reading group, with the next meeting being held this week. Another highlight of upcoming activity includes daily readings of Jane Austen’s novels in Waterstones Bath, between 10th - 17th September, as part of their support for the Jane Austen Festival.
BBC One showed "My Friend Jane" last night while this weekend, BBC Two has "Becoming Jane", starring Anne Hathaway as Jane, coming up. The BBC has already broadcast the programme "Jane Austen Behind Closed Doors". Meanwhile, the "Love to Read" portion of its website is testing visitors with an online quiz to find out, "Are you a Jane Austen super-fan?"
On social media, the JaneAusten200 hashtag is currently trending on Twitter.