JANE Austen’s House Museum at Chawton has this week announced the launch of a major new fundraising campaign, ahead of the release this Tuesday of the new £10 note featuring the author’s portrait.
The campaign – a call to ‘Bring Jane Home’ – is not, as some might think, a plea for the author’s remains to be returned to her home village of Chawton, but for supporters to donate their first Austen £10 note to Jane’s Fund, a fund set up to help restore and protect Austen’s precious home which is in urgent need of restoration.
Bank of England governor Mark Carney announced that Jane Austen would appear on a forthcoming banknote at a press conference at Jane Austen’s House Museum in July 2013.
Since then the new polymer banknote has attracted some adverse publicity over the apparent ‘airbrushing’ of the head and shoulders portrait, said to have been painted by her nephew after her death, with some arguing that the author appears noticeably prettier and less drawn than in the only contemporary painting which exists.
In May this year, historian and TV presenter Lucy Worsley told The Sunday Times: “It’s deeply ironic that the image chosen by the Bank of England isn’t really her... it’s an author publicity portrait after she died in which she’s been given the Georgian equivalent of an airbrushing.”
The new bank note will be unveiled at Winchester Cathedral on July 18, the 200th anniversary of the author’s death.
Airbrushed portrait, or not, once the new banknote is released into circulation in September, it will also provide the public with a way to celebrate Jane Austen’s life and support the restoration of her home by visiting Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton and donating £10 or by texting JANE 41 £10 to 70070.
The house, where Austen lived for the last eight years of her life and wrote or revised all of her novels, is of Grade I Listed status and recent surveys have shown that vital building repairs are required to ensure the fabric of the house does not deteriorate further. Exterior and interior work will secure the house now and protect it for future generations.
Some of the first Austen enthusiasts vowing to donate their first Austen £10 to Jane’s Fund include Jane Austen’s House Museum ambassadors Lucy Worsley, Joanna Trollope and Kathy Lette.
The museum will be welcoming the Bank of England’s Chief Cashier Victoria Cleland to the house in September where she will donate one of the early bank notes to the museum’s permanent collection.