Jane Austen is to feature on the next £10 note, the Bank of England says, avoiding a long-term absence of women represented on banknotes.
The author will be the next face of the note, replacing Charles Darwin, probably in 2017, the 200th anniversary of her death.
George Osborne, the Chancellor, tweeted that the move showed “sense and sensibility”.
In April, the Bank prompted a high-profile campaign against the prospect of having no female characters, besides the Queen, on the UK’s currency.
It had announced that Sir Winston Churchill would be put on the £5 note from 2016, replacing social reformer Elizabeth Fry.
The latest announcement means that women could be absent from newly issued banknotes for up to a year, although the Elizabeth Fry £5 note will still be in circulation.
Banknotes are redesigned on a relatively frequent basis, in order to maintain security and prevent forgeries.
The most recent new design from the Bank of England to enter circulation was the £50 note. This features Matthew Boulton and James Watt, who were most celebrated for bringing the steam engine into the textile manufacturing process.
The decision to replace Elizabeth Fry on the £5 note prompted protests and discussions about female representation on banknotes, but Jane Austen was thought to have already been part of the Bank’s plans for the next new note.
The Bank said in a statement that it was “never the Bank’s intention” that none of the four characters on banknotes would be a woman.
“Jane Austen certainly merits a place in the select group of historical figures to appear on our banknotes. Her novels have an enduring and universal appeal and she is recognised as one of the greatest writers in English literature,” said Mark Carney, the new governor of the Bank of England.
Jane Austen will be the 17th historical figure to appear on Bank of England notes.
The fibreglass sculpture of the actor’s head and torso stretches 12ft out of the water at The Serpentine in Hyde Park, Central London.
It has been built to mark the launch of Drama, a new British TV channel after the famous Darcy scene topped a recent poll to find the the most memorable moment in British TV drama.
The scene appeared in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, which was published 200 years ago. The image of Firth emerging dripping wet from the lake at Lyme Park in Cheshire caused a stir and turned the actor into a sex symbol.
The model took a team of three sculptors more than two months to design, construct and paint. Toby Crowther, the lead sculptor, said: “The challenge for us was capturing the spirit of Darcy as handsome and noble but also aloof and proud.”
The sculpture will tour a number of locations before being installed in Lyme Park, where it will remain until February. (PA)