Sir Mervyn King hints at Jane Austen bank note

The outgoing governor of the Bank of England Sir Mervyn King has hinted that the author Jane Austen has been mooted as a candidate to appear on bank notes.

He refused to confirm that Austen is a candidate to appear on the £10 bank note, but did stretch as far as saying that "Jane Austen is waiting in the wings".

The £5 note featuring the 19th century prison reformer Elizabeth Fry Credit: Bank of England

The Bank of England confirmed that Austen does appear on an "additional contingency note," but that there are no plans to print this at present.

Apart from the Queen, the 19th century prison reformer Elizabeth Fry is the only woman to appear on any bank note, but her spot may be threatened by Winston Churchill.

King said that "one thing we are quite determined to avoid is any suggestion that the £5 note can in some sense be reserved for women, that would be demeaning."

A recent poll by the Guardian found that the suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher were the two female forerunners.