Jane Austen emerges as front-runner to replace Charles Darwin on £10 note

Announcement follows row over choice of Sir Winston Churchill to appear on £5 notes in place of one of only two women selected since historical figures were introduced in 1970

Novelist Jane Austen is the leading candidate to replace Charles Darwin on the £10 note, outgoing Bank of England governor Sir Mervyn King has revealed.

The author of literary classics such as Pride And Prejudice and Sense And Sensibility has been picked as the so-called "contingency candidate" to appear on notes.

Sir Mervyn told MPs on the Treasury Select Committee that she was "quietly waiting in the wings" and was in pole position to appear on the £10 note as and when the notes are changed.

His comments follow a row over the choice of Sir Winston Churchill to appear on £5 notes in place of prison reformer Elizabeth Fry - one of only two women selected since historical figures were introduced in 1970.

The decision to use the wartime leader in April led to an online petition and the threat of potential legal action under the Equality Act.

The Bank said earlier this month that a mystery woman had been drawn up as a contingency, but her identity had not been revealed until today.

The Bank has not yet made a decision on when the £10 note will be changed.

Austen would be only the third woman to appear on banknotes, following Ms Fry and pioneering nurse Florence Nightingale, who was previously on £10 notes.

Set among the English middle and upper classes, Austen's books are notable for their wit, social observation and insights into the lives of early 19th century women - earning her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature.

PA

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