5 things you didn’t know about Nan Shepherd, the face of the new Scottish £5 note

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  • Scottish novelist and poet Nan Shepherd will be the first woman to be featured on the Royal Bank of Scotland's £5 note, it was announced today. The bank note will come into circulation later this year.

    Born in 1893, Nan Shepherd went on to pen both novels and non-fiction, all of which feature the Scottish landscape and weather that inspired her writing.

    The back of the £5 note will include a playful picture of two mackerel, said to be the Scottish fishing industry’s most valuable resource. Alongside the image will be an extract of a poem, The Choice, by Sorley Maclean, one of the most popular Scottish poets in history.

    Florence Nightengale might have been the first woman to appear on an English bank note, between 1975 and 1992, but there actually isn’t a long history of women appearing on banknotes in the UK. In 2013, it even took a petition signed by 35,000 people to have the Bank of England agree to put Jane Austen on their new £10 note.

    Scotland has set a precedent however this year, as scientist Mary Somerville appears on the £10 alongside Nan Shepherd on the £5.

    Here are a few things you may not know about Nan Shepherd…

    1. Nan Shepherd lived in Aberdeen all her life

    After moving to the village of Cults, Aberdeen, as a small child, Nan continued to live in her childhood home for the rest of her 87 years.

    2. It took 32 years for her classic text, The Living Mountain, to be published

    Nan wrote the novel in 1945, during World War Two, but it wasn’t published until 1977, four years before her death.

    3. Nan Shepherd was an English Literature teacher

    After graduating from the Aberdeen University with a Master’s degree, Nan went on to teach English for the rest of her career, until she retired in 1956.

    4. She was known for her feminist beliefs

    Nan held strong feminist principles, which were way ahead of her time. As such, most of her English university lectures took a feminist approach.

    5. Nan Shepherd was never married

    She wrote a collection of poetry, In The Cairngorms, in 1934. The final section consisted of love sonnets, which were written for a man whose identity was never revealed.

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