The new ‘plastic’ ten pound note will enter circulation this week, featuring Jane Austen to commemorate the 200th anniversary of her death. Over 800 million notes will be pumped into the economy, replacing the old paper version by May 2018.
Alas, the quote chosen to appear on the design has caused some furore (us Brits enjoy being offended). The line ‘I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!’ was taken not from Austen herself but from a deceitful character in Pride and Prejudice who in fact detests reading but pretends to enjoy it to snare a love interest.
The Bank of England employee responsible may be hanging their head in shame for the lack of research but is not as foolish as the young publisher Thomas Cadell who in 1797 read Austen’s original version of the book and promptly returned it ‘declined’.
Austen’s works were largely published anonymously and sadly gained far greater significance after her death. She was paid just £110 for Pride and Prejudice and sold all rights to the book on publication so never enjoyed the royalties. The book has sold over 20 million copies worldwide and has never been out of print.
At the time of her death, the author’s total assets amounted to less than £800 (around £40,000 today) yet her work has continued to turn profits – the latest film adaptation netted some £60million.
This week our attentions turn to other professionals who are not paid fairly. Following the announcement that pay rises will be given to police and prison officers this year, the government has been forced to confirm that the seven year 1 per cent annual cap would be removed for other public sector workers too.
“Our public sector workers are among the most talented and hard-working people in our society,” May’s spokesman said. “They, like everyone else, deserve to have fulfilling jobs that are fairly rewarded.”
Inflation is now at a five-year high, measured by the Consumer Prices Index at 2.9 per cent in August. The respective pay rises of 2 and 1.7 for police and prison officers is a pay cut in real terms. There are no prizes, monetary or otherwise, for guessing that any pay rise offered to NHS workers next year is unlikely to be any better.