Chawton House Library: Banking in the Age of Jane Austen

Date: February 2, 2014 Category:



DATE: Friday 19 September, 10:00am – 8:30pm & Saturday 20 September, 9:45am –5:00pm

LOCATION: Chawton House Library, Hampshire


The Image of Finance: Why Jane Austen on the £10 Note Matters

Friday 19 September : ‘Money, Sovereignty, and Representation’


At this day workshop, cultural historians and theorists will join with curators from the British Museum and British Library to discuss and debate the material forms of money, and ask, What does money really stand for?

There will be three sessions: ‘Money, Nationality and Sovereignty’, ‘Money and Trust,’ ‘Money, History and Gender’. Full schedule here

Public Lecture (6 pm to 8:30 pm)

Caroline Criado-Perez, feminist activist and the spokesperson of the successful and controversial ‘Keep a Woman on English Banknotes’, will talk about the role of women and money in contemporary political culture. Of her decision to make a public issue of the lack of women on English paper currency, Criado-Perez has been quoted as saying: ‘the culture we live in is made up of little tiny sexist acts which you can just ignore but when you think of them collectively you start to see a pattern’. Last year she received the campaigner of the year award from the pressure group Liberty.

Private View of the Exhibition ‘Show Me the Money, Image to Finance, 1700 to the Present’

The history of Chawton House Library occupies an important pivotal place in this story of finance that this exhibition tells. This is the village where Austen completed her mature novels (including Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion), near the town of Alton where her brother was involved in the failure of the local bank (whose losses included the £13 profit from Mansfield Park) and where we find the Jane Austen House Museum where the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, recently unveiled Austen as the new face of the £10 note. The selection of works exhibited at the Chawton House Library exhibition speak to what Austen represents in this financial history by emphasising the critical but often overlooked role that women have played in responding to finance. The exhibits include work by leading younger female artists – Jane Lawson, Rhiannon Williams, Cary Young, Geraldine Juárez, Justine Smith and Victoria Bradbury – who have shared a concern with exploring the materiality of money and finance. Much of this work is interested in what money itself is: the tension between its essential place in our social and collective lives and its fragile and ephemeral physical nature. From William’s My Loss is My Loss, a paper quilt made from a decade’s worth of lottery tickets, to Geraldine Juárez’s Hello Bitcoin, a video installation of the artist burning a bitcoin, to Justine Smith’s A Bigger Bang, a piece that represents deregulated finance through a cut-up map of money, these texts all explore the subject and substance and power of money itself: a thing that Austen was very well aware of.


Saturday 20 September 9:30 am to 5:00 pm: ‘Banking in the Age of Jane Austen’

Full schedule here

Jane Austen was born in 1775 as Adam Smith was preparing to publish ‘The Wealth of Nations’. She died in 1817, the year after a major financial crash, that involved the bankruptcy of dozens of businesses and banks, including the banks owned by her own brother, Henry. Her lifetime coincided with tumultuous years in the history of British finance, largely due to the long-running war with France and the constant fears of economic isolation, hardship and insurrection at home. Speakers will address the rise of paper money and financial malpractice, the transformation of the social landscape by modern capitalism, and Austen’s own insider knowledge of the changing world of banking. Her interest can be glimpsed in her letters, and in her references to the card game ‘Speculation’, most famously depicted in Mansfield Park, now in its 200th anniversary year. There will be a demonstration of the game ‘Speculation’ and an opportunity to view the exhibition ‘Show Me the Money’ while touring Chawton House Library, an internationally-renowned rare books library.


Ticket Prices

Please book here

Friday 19th Delegate: £30, Students and Unwaged Delegates: £20

Saturday 20th Delegate: £40, Students and Unwaged Delegates: £30

2 day delegate: £60, Students and Unwaged delegates: £40

Public Lecture: free 

These prices include tea, coffee and lunches, plus wine and nibbles for the Public Lecture.

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