Unless you are one of the lucky few, writing is not usually a lucrative profession. Many a writer has had financial problems, has written a pot-boiler just to reduce debt, or has died leaving only manuscripts behind. Somehow it always seems to redress the balance somewhat when a famous writer has been featured on a bank note or coin. Jane Austen has just gone on to the English £10 note and the £2 coin (making her the first person ever to simultaneously be on her country’s notes and coins), but which other authors have been honoured in this way?
I’ve had fun researching this and have produced the following list of writers on banknotes for you:
Australia: Banjo Paterson, Dame Mary Gilmore, Henry Lawson, David Unaipon
Denmark: Hans Christian Andersen, Karen Blixen
England: Jane Austen, Winston Churchill, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare
France: Chateaubriand, Victor Hugo, Molière, Blaise Pascal, Racine, Saint-Exupéry, Voltaire
Germany: Bettina von Arnim, Goethe, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Schiller
Ireland: James Joyce, Jonathan Swift
Japan: Ichiyō Higuchi, Murasaki Shikibu
Netherlands: Joost van den Vondel
Norway: Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, Bjørnsterne Bjørnson, Camilla Collett, Henrik Ibsen, Sigrid Undset, Henrik Wergeland
Scotland: Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson
South Africa: Nelson Mandela
Spain: Rosalia de Castro, Cervantes, Benito Pérez Galdós, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Leopoldo Alas y Ureňa
Sweden: Selma Lagerlöf, Astrid Lindgren
Switzerland: Gottfried Keller, Charles Ferdinand Ramuz
Turkey: Yunus Emre, Mehmet Akif Ersoy, Rumi, Fatma Aliye Topuz
There are some surprising omissions – why is Katherine Mansfield not on a N.Z. note, or L.M. Montgomery not on a Canadian one? The USA features presidents on its notes (and of course some of those have been writers as well as politicians – Barak Obama’s autobiography, Jimmy Carter’s historical novel, are examples) so you don’t find writers such as Twain (how he’d have loved that!!).
Have I missed any for the countries I chose to research? Which authors do you think should feature on bank notes? Tell me by leaving a comment.