PERSUASIONS ON-LINE V.33, NO.1 (Winter 2012)

Jane Austen, Pound for Pound

Marilyn Francus


Marilyn Francus (email: is an associate professor of English at West Virginia University.  She is the author of Monstrous Motherhood: Eighteenth-Century Culture and the Ideology of Domesticity (2012) and the editor of The Burney Journal.  Her current research focuses on motherhood and authorship, and on Austen and popular culture.


while Austen is notoriously vague in her physical descriptions of people, places, and objects, her works are filled with fiscal details about individuals and their property.


The following charts were developed as part of a study of the prudent and the mercenary in Austen’s major novels.  By gathering and categorizing the financial data about Austen’s characters, these charts suggest new ways to think about wealth, class, and behavior in Austen’s works.  Unexpected conjunctions emerge:  Charles and Caroline Bingley are the financial and social doubles of Henry and Mary Crawford; Augusta Hawkins and Mary King are fiscal twins, as are Emma Woodhouse and Georgiana Darcy.  Each pairing illuminates social expectations regarding class standing and behavior, despite their distinct characters, responsibilities, and histories.


Issues of status come into greater focus as well.  Catherine Morland’s dowry is only small in light of Mrs. Tilney’s, but in comparison to the Dashwood sisters, the Bennet sisters, and Anne Elliot, Catherine’s dowry is quite robust.  Robert Ferrars’s inherited wealth provides valuable context to understand Captain Wentworth—whose fortune is more impressive, not only in amount but because it is earned.  (In fact, the amount of Wentworth’s fortune strongly aligns him with Austen’s heiresses.)


While Austen does not provide financial information about all of her characters—and some of those omissions are significant—it is hoped that this compilation of financial data will open new avenues of analysis of Austen’s works.








Mr. Rushworth

£12,000 per year

(MP 40); larger income than Sir Thomas Bertram (MP 38)

Fitzwilliam Darcy

£10,000 per year

(PP 10, 77); Pemberley and related investments

Charles Bingley

£4,000 or £5,000 per year

(PP 4); inherited property worth £100,000 (PP 15)

Henry Crawford

£4,000 per year

A good estate in Norfolk (MP 40); income from property (MP 118)

Colonel Brandon

£2,000 per year

The value of the Delaford estate (SS 70) but it needs work (SS 223)

Mr. Bennet

£2,000 per year

(PP 28); Longbourn Estate; entailed away from the female line

Captain Wentworth

£1,250 per year

£25,000 earned in his profession (P 269)

Robert Ferrars

£1,000 per year

Inheritance bestowed by Mrs. Ferrars (SS 374)

Rev. Norris

~£1,000 per year

Income of the Mansfield living (MP 3)

Edward Ferrars

£800-£850 per year

£200 per year from the Delaford rectory, which may be worth £250 at the utmost (SS 283, 374); £2,000 of his own, which would generate £100 annually in interest (SS 369); £10,000 marriage gift from Mrs. Ferrars (SS 374), which would generate £500 annually in interest

Edmund Bertram

£700 per year

Income from the living (MP 226)


£600 or £700 per year

(SS 71); Willoughby spends beyond his income (SS 71)

James Morland

£400 per year

Living in his father’s gift; plus a future inheritance of an estate of equal value (NA 135); current income delays marriage for 2-3 years

George Wickham

£150 per year (pre-military)

£3,000 given to him by Darcy, instead of the Kympton living and £1,000 legacy envisioned by old Mr. Darcy (PP 200-201). Wickham claims he was denied the living (PP 79). Darcy paid Wickham’s debts after he left Derbyshire (PP 265). Wickham’s gaming debts in Brighton, more than £1,000, were paid by Darcy (PP 297-298; 324), who also purchases an ensign’s commission for Wickham (PP 312, 324)


Unspecified assets and incomes: Mr. Morland, General Tilney, Captain Tilney, Henry Tilney, and John Thorpe; Mr. Collins, Wickham and Colonel Fitzwilliam; Sir Thomas Bertram, Admiral Crawford, and William Price; Mr. Knightley, Mr. Weston, Frank Churchill, Rev. Elton, and Robert Martin; Sir Walter Elliot, Charles Musgrove, Admiral Croft, Captain Harville, and Captain Benwick.


*Based on Edward Copeland’s calculation of 5% interest as the typical return on an investment in the period.  See his essay, “Money,” in The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen.







Miss Grey

£2,500 per year

Dowry of £50,000 (SS 194)

Emma Woodhouse

£1,500 per year

Dowry of £30,000 (E 135)

Hon. Miss Morton

£1,500 per year

Dowry of £30,000 (SS 224)

Georgiana Darcy

£1,500 per year

Dowry of £30,000 (PP 202)

Mary Crawford

£1,000 per year

Dowry of £20,000 (MP 40, 42, 469)

Caroline Bingley and Louisa Bingley Hurst

£1,000 per year

Dowry of £20,000 each (PP 15)

Mrs. Tilney

£1,000 per year

Dowry of £20,000 (plus £500 on wedding clothes) (NA 68)

Miss Campbell

£600 per year

Dowry of £12,000 (E 169) **

Augusta Hawkins Elton

~£500 per year

Dowry of ~£10,000 (E 181)

Mary King

£500 per year

Dowry of £10,000 (PP 153)

Mrs. Dashwood

£500 per year income

(SS 29, 12); interest from the £10,000 estate of her dead husband (SS 4)

Maria Ward Bertram

£350 per year

Dowry of £7,000 (MP 3)

Mrs. Grant

~£250 per year

Mrs. Norris’ research on Mrs. Grant’s dowry suggests that it was ~£5,000 (MP 31)

Mrs. Bennet

£200 per year

Dowry of £4,000 (PP 28)

Catherine Morland

£150 per year

Dowry of £3,000 (NA 251); John Thorpe represents Catherine as having a dowry of £10,000 - £15,000, and as the Allen heir (NA 245)

Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret Dashwood

£50 per year

Each daughter has £1,000 inheritance (SS 12; see also SS 369); Marianne’s idea of a competence is an income of £1,800 - £2,000 per year (SS 91); Elinor’s idea of wealth is an income of £1,000 per year (SS 91)

The Bennet sisters

£40 per year

£1,000 invested at 4% interest, available after Mrs. Bennet’s death (PP 106); £5,000 settled among the daughters after parents’ death (PP 302; see also 308). Upon marriage, Lydia receives £100 per year while Mr. Bennet alive (and, according to Mr. Bennet, £50 from her inheritance after Mr. Bennet is dead) (PP 302, 304); £1,000 is settled on Lydia by Darcy (PP 324)

Anne Elliot


Share of £10,000 if/when available (P 269)


Unspecified assets and incomes: Isabella Thorpe, Mrs. Thorpe, and Mrs. Morland; Anne de Bourgh, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and Charlotte Lucas; Mrs. Price and the Bertram daughters; Miss Bates, Mrs. Bates, Jane Fairfax, Harriet Smith, and Miss Weston; Henrietta Musgrove, Louisa Musgrove, Elizabeth Elliot and Mary Elliot Musgrove.


*Based on Edward Copeland’s calculation of 5% interest as the typical return on an investment in the period.  See his essay, “Money,” in The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen.


**Thanks to Arthur Lindley, The Shakespeare Institute, for this instance.



Works Cited


Austen, Jane.  The Novels of Jane Austen.  Ed. R. W. Chapman.  3rd ed.  Oxford: OUP, 1933-69.

Copeland, Edward.  “Money.” The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen.  Ed. Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster.  Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997.  131-48.


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