Has Jane Austen Been Airbrushed To Look More ‘Doll-like’?

The Bank of England has chosen an image that makes Jane Austen look 'dim-witted' and 'doll-like', claims an Austen expert

Jane Austen is yet another woman to have been airbrushed to make her look more attractive, an Austen biographer has suggested.

The Pride and Prejudice author now appears on the new £10 note, which was unveiled in July, after campaigners lobbied for more women to appear on our paper money, given that only pictures of important men were given space on the back of banknotes.

However, even though Paula Byrne, the author of The Real Jane Austen, recognises that it is ‘brilliant’ Austen is on the note, she has criticised the Bank of England for their choice of portrait of the writer.

‘Jane Austen is the funniest writer to walk this plant, and she’s been made to look dim-witted’, Byrne said of the picture, which was painted in 1870, more than 50 years after Austen’s death.

‘It’s a 19th century airbrushed makeover. It’s been prettied up for the Victorian era when Jane Austen was very much a woman of Georgian character.’

The only portrait of Jane Austen made in her lifetime, was drawn by her sister Cassandra, and it is this portrait that Byrne says the Bank should have used. 

In Cassandra Austen’s sketch, her sister appears unsmiling with tired-looking eyes. In contrast, the banknote portrait makes ‘her look like a doll, with big blue eyes. She wasn’t smiling in the original and she is in this… they’ve chosen a picture that makes her look a really cosy, middle-class writer’ Byrne said.

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