Could George Eliot be the face of the new £50?

The Bank of England has announced they’ll be issuing a new £50 note following speculation that the denomination might be discontinued. They’ve also asked the public to nominate famous and inspirational figures to feature on the note. Now two Councillors from Coventry are calling for Nuneaton born George Eliot, who had very strong links with Coventry, to appear on the new note.

The call comes from the Leader of Coventry’s Conservatives Cllr Gary Ridley and Shadow Cabinet Member for Culture Cllr Roger Bailey. Next year will be 200 years since the birth of the novelist, whose real name is Mary Anne Evans. The author rose to fame in the nineteenth century with a number of classic novels including titles such as Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss and Middlemarch. She composed several poems and also wrote on a number of different subjects.

With Coventry chosen as the City of Culture for 2021 they believe the time is right to mark the author’s contribution to society and celebrate Coventry’s status as the City of Culture. They also believe that it’s right the accolade goes to a women as 2018 marks 100 years since the granting of women’s suffrage.

The pair have set up a petition on website change.org which they hope will demonstrate strong support from within Coventry and farther afield. They’re also hoping to recruit the support of other organisations and individuals to raise the profile of the campaign.

Commenting on the campaign Cllr Gary Ridley said; “George Eliot was one of the most important writers the country has ever produced. She should be honoured on the new £50 note because of the important contribution she made to our national story. Next year will be 200 years since the birth of the author who assumed a male sounding name to help her succeed in a male dominated environment. With 2018 marking the anniversary of votes for women isn't it time she was recognised with this tribute?”

Fellow Cllr Roger Bailey said; “As Coventry moves towards its year as city of culture what better way to celebrate her genius and flag up the city’s cultural achievements? George Eliot is one of our nation’s finest literary figures and we should be proud, really proud of this dazzling writer. She has very strong links to our city and produced some of her most valuable work at her Bird Grove house in the city. I’d urge the Bank of England to give her serious consideration.”

Both councillors are keen to hear from others who can help the campaign. Please visit: https://www.change.org/p/hm-treasury-put-george-eliot-on-the-new-50-note to sign the petition.