By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez for Coinweek …….
The Royal Bank of Scotland has announced it will feature a portrait of author Nan Shepherd on a new polymer £5 note to be released later this year. Shepherd will become one of two women to be featured on circulating Scottish currency, with the other female figure a likeness of scientist Mary Somerville; her £10 polymer banknote will debut in circulation next year.
Shepherd’s appearance on the £5 note follows a growing interest in her literary work, which profiled the grandeur of the Scottish landscape and nature, including rocks, quarries, hills, plants, and weather. Her love for places such as the Cairngorm Mountains and other topographical landmarks in Scotland was seen in a multitude of her novels and poems.
The 2016 Nan Shepherd £5 banknote will feature a three-quarters bust profile of the author during her younger years, her hair draping upon her shoulders and a simple headband adorning the woman’s youthful face. A landscape image featuring the Cairngorms sits behind the obverse portrait. On the reverse is a depiction of two mackerel swimming in a fashion symbolizing the universally recognizable recycling symbol. Written in cursive script is a line from Sorley MacLean’s Gaelic poem “The Choice,” which, translated to English, means, “I walked with my reason, out beside the sea.”
Shepherd was born in 1893 and became one of the first women to graduate from Aberdeen University in 1915. Her first novel, The Quarry Wood, was published in 1928 and is partly based on her own life; the protagonist is a young woman who leaves behind her agricultural upbringing to attend Aberdeen University. Shepherd, who never married, spent virtually her entire life living in rural Scotland. She did, however, pass on her love of nature to others through training teachers at Aberdeen University and taking them on nature hikes.
Of all Shepherd’s books, perhaps her most well known is The Living Mountain, which was published in 1977 – just four years before her death in 1981. The non-fiction book profiles the activity of hiking the Cairngorms as a healthy and inspiring recreational diversion. Among all of her works run two common themes: the female experience in society and a passion for the environment.
While her books and other works were initially released several decades ago, Shepherd’s literary contributions have enjoyed a resurgence in population over the last 30 years. In 1987, Canongate re-published The Quarry Wood, and the re-issue met with wide acclaim.