Socks for the Boys!

My Great Aunt Norah's wartime diaries, 1938-1948

Women’s history and the bank note fiasco

A little break from Norah’s diaries just to put my two penn’orth in on this bank note fiasco and the wider issue of women’s history. The background, briefly, is that the Bank of England is proposing to remove Elizabeth Fry, the only woman on its notes, and to replace her with Winston Churchill. See

I couldn’t help but notice, when in Sweden last week, that women feature on at least two of the bank notes there. Jenny Lind, the C19th opera singer, is on the 50 krona note, and Selma Lagerlof, author and Nobel Prize winner, on the 20.

I know I can be accused of romanticising Scandinavia. But I couldn’t hep but wonder whether having women on bank notes is part of a bigger package. For example, walking around Linkoping, I saw countless men caring for their children. I travelled on one bus; it was driven by a woman.  I saw boys and girls playing football together and (a subject close to the heart of my youngest daughter) the boys were passing the ball to the girls. And then, at Arlanda airport, I saw this: a picture of Karen Blixen on tail of Norwegian Airlines planes. And do you know what? She’s not even Norwegian.

Karen Blixen, Norwegian Airlines

So Bank of England, get your act together. The list is endless. Off the top of my head: Mary Wollstonecraft, Jane Austen, Maria Edgeworth, Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, Sarah Bernhardt, Florence Nightingale, Josephine Butler, Octavia Hill, Sylvia Pankhurst. And that’s before we get to 1914.


2 comments on “Women’s history and the bank note fiasco

  1. janerobinsonauthor
    June 4, 2013

    I sometimes wonder if we’re enlightened at all…

    • Alison
      June 7, 2013

      I know, it is shocking and dispiriting that their understanding of ‘value’ in history is so exclusive. But it is a battle worth fighting…

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This entry was posted on June 3, 2013 by in public history and tagged , .
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