The new plastic £10 note featuring novelist Jane Austen was unveiled by Bank of England governor Mark Carney today (18 July).

Austen is the only woman - apart from the Queen - to be featured on an English bank note, following the withdrawal of old £5 notes in May, which featured prison reformer Elizabeth Fry.

Carney showed the new note to the public at Winchester Cathedral, the city in which Austen died in 1817. The event also marked the 200th anniversary of the death of the writer of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.

Her body is buried in the cathedral's north aisle, around 500 fans of the writer in period dress were present.

It is also the first Bank of England note to include a tactile feature to help visually impaired people. The note has a series of raised dots in the top left-hand corner of the banknote, developed with the help of the RNIB.

The Bank of England says the new £10 notes contain sophisticated security features and are expected to last five years, which is two-and-a-half times longer than the current note.

Carney said: "The new £10 note celebrates Jane Austen's work. Austen's novels have a universal appeal and speak as powerfully today as they did when they were first published.

"Our banknotes serve as repositories of the country's collective memory, promoting awareness of the United Kingdom's glorious history and highlighting the contributions of its greatest citizens."

It is the first time that members of the public can see the bank note before it enters circulation in September.

The polymer note will replace the paper £10 note which carries Charles Darwin's image, which will eventually be withdrawn next Spring.

No enjoyment like reading

Meanwhile, a limited supply of a new £2 coin honouring Jane Austen has been put into circulation by the Royal Mint.

The coin will initially only be available in tills at key locations in the Winchester and Basingstoke areas that have connections with Austen, including Winchester Cathedral and the Jane Austen House Museum. It will be circulated more widely across the UK later this year.

Paper bank notes - £5, £10 and £20 - are slowly being replaced by plastic notes, which are more secure and resilient to counterfeiting, more resistant to dirt and more durable.

Production began in August, with more than 275 million printed. The new note will also reportedly be smaller than the current one, but larger than the new fiver.

The new £10 note will feature Austen with plump cheeks and a calm expression, taken from a portrait which was commissioned after her death at the age of 41.

The note has already attracted some criticism due to the fact that Austen's portrait appears to be 'airbrushed'. It shows her noticeably prettier and less drawn than she appears in the only contemporary painting of her which exists (and is on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London).

The Bank of England has so far refused to bow to pressure to make its £10 plastic bank note tallow-free, a by-product of beef or mutton fat, despite anger from vegans and vegetarians.

The note also carries images of Jane Austen's writing table and quills, along with this quote from Pride and Prejudice: "I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!"