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

Central Bank archives are not just about figuring the organisation but several other things.

John Avery Jones, a retired Visiting Professor at the LSE in this post estimates Jane Austin’s income from the Bank of England Archives:

Based on these assumptions, and taking into account such details as that she did not keep anything back for tax on the first receipt which was presumably funded by Henry’s bank, and assuming that she spent the income from the Navy Fives, the income from Mansfield Park would be £310. This is precisely Henry Austen’s figure; perhaps he was not exaggerating on this occasion. On that basis the total tax she paid (before its abolition in 1816) would be about £56. Alternatively if she commenced her profession at the later time the income would be £337, which is almost identical to Professor Fergus’s figure. (On the different assumption that she carried on a trade, which would necessarily have been set up at the time of the receipts from Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, the tax would be lower and so would reduce the estimate of earnings from Mansfield Park to £297.)

Her total income from writing in her lifetime was a mixture of taxable receipts and receipts after the abolition of income tax in 1816. These amount, on my estimate, to around £631 before tax (while tax was in force), or £575 after tax, which would be equivalent to just over £45,000 at today’s prices.

Hmm…

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