A few weeks ago, literature lovers across England celebrated the Bank of England’s announcement that Jane Austen will become the new face of the £10 note in 2017. The announcement followed the recent public campaign to have a female other than the Queen on the Bank of England notes.
Although other authors such as William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and the composer Edward Elgar have previously graced the Bank of England notes, it is still being debated as to whether Austen was selected for her gender or for her rich and long-lasting contribution to the literary world.
From Northanger Abbey to Persuasion and from Sense and Sensibility to arguably Austen’s most famous work Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen is a well-loved classic author, and one of my personal favourite writers. I’ve decided to focus on the fact that she will be (however briefly) in my purse; and sooner rather than later, after all it was Austen herself who said “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”
To further highlight the wealth of faces that literature has to offer, I’ve put together a list of Yorkshire authors, all of whom I believe deserve the honour of becoming the face of one of our banknotes:
- The Bronte sisters: Charlotte Bronte – for being the author of Jane Eyre; Anne Bronte – for being the author of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall; Emily Bronte – for being the author of the most infuriating classic I’ve ever read- Wuthering Heights
- Arthur Ransome: for writing the Swallows and Amazons series, those books got me through some dull English Summers when the rain didn’t let up!
- Tony Harrison: for his adaptation of the English Medieval Mystery Plays, based on the York and Wakefield cycles, The Mysteries
- Louise Rennison: author of the Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging and It’s OK, I’m Wearing Really Big Knickers; which have since been portrayed in the hilarious film adaptation called Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging
- Barbara Taylor-Bradford: master storyteller of love, romance and passion, author of 28 bestselling novels worldwide, 10 of which have been made into a mini-series for television with future projects already in the pipeline.
- Ted Hughes: Poet Laureate of the UK from 1984-1998 and husband of the late Sylvia Plath
- Barry Tebb: appalled by the state of poetry publishing, he founded Sixties Press in 1993 which has published over forty books and pamphlets. Tebb’s own Selected Poems, The Lights of Leeds was published by Redbeck Press in 2001
- Eric Rücker Eddison: best known for his work the Zimiamvia Trilogy: Mistress of Mistresses, A Fish Dinner in Memison, and The Mezentian Gate, for which Eddison received high praise from J. R. R. Tolkien
- Simon Armitage: a poet from Marsden, West Yorkshire, and now Professor of Poetry at the University of Sheffield
- Susan Hill: author of The Woman in Black, which has subsequently been turned into one of the most terrifying plays I’ve seen to date, and more recently was made into an even creepier film (I’ve not been able to watch it all the way through yet!), featuring Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe
- Alan Bennett: author of The Madness of King George III and The History Boys
- Margaret Drabble: author of the brilliant novel The Red Queen and winner of the Golden PEN award in 2011
Of course this is not an all-encompassing list of authors from Yorkshire, or indeed of the literary greats across the world, but I’ll take any opportunity I can get to celebrate some of the fantastic writers that have come from The Great North. I’d be interested to know which order you think they should be in, and if you have any other suggestions I’d love to hear those too – comment with their name and why you think they should be on the list and they can be added to the further list of names below.
Other Yorkshire possibilities for our banknotes:
- Andrew Marvell: a poet from Winestead, East Riding of Yorkshire, his work includes Mr. Smirke; or The Divine in Mode, a work critical of intolerance within the Church of England, which was published together with a “Short Historical Essay, concerning General Councils, Creeds, and Impositions, in matters of Religion
- Thomas Wyatt: a poet with family originally from Yorkshire credited with introducing the sonnet into English
- Elaine Storkey: for her contribution to feminist writings
- Julia Pardoe: best known for her novels on travels in the East especially Turkey and a variety of historical subjects