Jane Austen’s income: insights from the Bank of England archives

John Avery Jones

This guest post is the first of an occasional series of guest posts by external researchers who have used the Bank of England’s archives for their work on subjects outside traditional central banking topics.

How much did Jane Austen earn from her writing in her lifetime? The answer helps us gauge her standard of living and how her income compared to other contemporary authors. The problem is that we know what she invested her earnings in, but not what she paid for that investment. Using data from the Bank of England Archive, I estimate how much she paid, and can then back out an estimate of her income. Based on this work, I calculate that her income from Mansfield Park was a fairly modest £310 (about £22,000 at today’s prices), substantially less for example than the £2,100 earned by Maria Edgeworth for Patronage which is probably not read now outside English literature departments.

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