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Nan Shepherd and Mary Somerville honoured on new RBS banknotes

Published 25/04/2016

Writer Nan Shepherd features on the new £5 note from Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS/PA Wire)
Writer Nan Shepherd features on the new £5 note from Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS/PA Wire)

Scottish poet and novelist Nan Shepherd will appear on a new batch of Royal Bank of Scotland polymer £5 notes.

The writer joins scientist Mary Somerville, who was chosen for the new £10 note in a public poll, meaning women will feature on RBS main issue notes for the first time.

Shepherd was an English lecturer at Aberdeen College of Education but also wrote novels, poetry and non-fiction, with the Scottish landscape and weather a major influence on her work.

Her book The Living Mountain detailed her love of hillwalking and the Cairngorms, which feature in the background of the £5 note.

The writer died at the age of 88 in 1981 but found a new generation of readers in recent years after The Living Mountain was republished in a special Canongate collection.

The choice of Shepherd to feature on the £5 note was taken by the RBS Scotland board.

Chairman Malcolm Buchanan said: "The Royal Bank of Scotland has never before featured a woman on its main issue bank notes. It gives me enormous pleasure that we are able to celebrate the fantastic, and often overlooked, achievements of two great Scottish women.

"Both made huge contributions in their respective fields."

Robert Macfarlane, writer and Fellow of Emmanuel College Cambridge, said he was "thrilled" to see Shepherd commemorated.

"Nan was a blazingly brilliant writer, a true original whose novels, poems and non-fiction broke new ground in Scottish literature, and her influence lives on powerfully today," he said.

"Nan's book The Living Mountain is a slender masterpiece that has brought many thousands of readers to see the Scottish landscape with fresh, astonished eyes. In person as in language, Nan followed her own path - she was a woman of fierce independence and inspiring vision."

The £5 notes will come into circulation later this year, with the £10 notes introduced in 2017.

Somerville was chosen earlier this year in an online poll that also featured physicist James Clerk Maxwell and engineer Thomas Telford.

She lived from 1780 until 1872 at a time when women's participation in science was strongly discouraged. She was jointly nominated to be the first female member of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1835.

RBS said the reverse of the new notes have a nature theme with two mackerel displayed on the £5 note and two otters on the £10.

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