Customer stories: Jane Austen
Last month the Bank of England unveiled a new, eagerly anticipated £10 note. Made from polymer, the new £10 incorporates several ingenious security devices as well as clusters of raised dots to help the visually impaired. The note features our former customer, Jane Austen, as this year brings the 200th anniversary of her death. A portrait of Jane can be found on the reverse, alongside depictions of perhaps her best loved heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, and Godmersham Park, home to Jane’s wealthy brother Edward.
By the time Jane Austen opened her customer account at Hoare’s in July 1816 her health was on a downward spiral. Consequently, and somewhat poignantly, her account contains just three credits – dividends on the Navy 5% Stocks she had invested much of her earnings in – and one debit – the withdrawal of the total sum (£45) by her sister Cassandra in September 1817. But Hoare’s links with the Austens span a much wider period. Jane’s mother’s family began banking here in the 1690s, while her father, the Reverend George Austen, maintained an account for 40 years. Cassandra’s account, opened on the same day as Jane’s, lasted nearly three decades and five of Jane’s six brothers similarly made their way to Fleet Street, along with numerous uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews. It was Hoare’s too that managed the funds arising out of a public subscription launched in 1898, with the aim of installing a window in Jane’s memory at Winchester Cathedral. Subscribers listed in the ledger range from Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Jane’s American biographer Oscar Fay Adams and ‘An Admirer’, who gave the princely sum of 1s 6d.
An image of Jane’s account at Hoare’s forms part of a fascinating new exhibition at the Bank of England ‘Stories from the City: The Bank of England in Literature’.