Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Was Mr. Darcy really rich on his 10,000 a year? Or just getting by?

Let's talk about Darcy's 10,000 a year, shall we?
Darcy fans ask the burning question: How well would Lizzie Bennet really live after she married Mr. Darcy?
That leading statement that he had “ten thousand a year” sounds rich…but it’s enlightening to learn the facts.
To help you savor the possibilities of stepping into Lizzie’s shoes, I found a wonderful website that translates previous years’ British pounds into current British pounds. So for your titilation, here’s a sample of the real cost of living for Mr. Darcy and his bride. I’ve added to the cost of a hired carriage ride and the cost of paying his servants’ salaries. (Yes, all costs are those I took from original sources of the period, give or take a few years on the publication date of Jane’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE which is 1813.)

(Do enlarge the two excerpts from an 1825 book on Household governance!)
A London carriage ride, hired hackney, 1-2 miles
(ex: Charing Cross to Hyde Park Corner) 1-2 pounds
Ladies hat, chip straw 18 pounds
Lace trim, 6 shillings per yard
Gown: Fine India Muslin, white, 13 per yard* 39-65 pounds
(3-5 needed for full length dress)
*Sewing extra
(Alternate fabric: chintz 7-8 pounds per yard)
Dinner party, food and wine, for 16-20 20 pounds
Dinner for family of 4, 3-4 courses 5 pounds
To educate (a daughter) at boarding school, including
Transportation to, from 43 per year
Recommended expenditure for running complete household:
This from one current expert in the period...and the category that breaks the bank. Watch and see!
33% of all income should go to household expenses 3300
20% to servants’ salaries, equipage (i.e. horse, carriage) 2000
TOTAL: 5300
So, let’s do the math!
Darcy has income of 10,000 pounds a year.
To run his country home, he spends 55% a year of 10,000 = 5300. pounds
He gives one dinner party a month x 12 = 240.
1 ball for 100 = (equivalent of 5 dinners) = 200
Total entertainment of others per year = 440.
5 new dresses for his wife, Lizzie = 65 x 5= 325
5 new hats for Lizzie, 18 x 5= 90
Total for Lizzie: 415.
What remains for him to expense:
· Clothing for himself, rest of family
· Education for children
· Books, entertainment, etc.
· His club dues, social responsibilities
· Etc.
And of course, the total to run his London townhouse is not listed here. That amount would be approximate to that of running his country estate. So add another 5300 pounds to his annual expenses as a gentleman.
And by that rule of thumb alone, he would already be in debt by several thousand pounds.
And what does 10,000 pounds in 1813 equal in British pounds today?
638,000 pounds
Converting that into American dollars at today’s inflation rate, we get
Darcy is a millionaire. But if he’s running two households, I hate to say this, he’s in financial trouble.
My Regency gentlemen are not broke. And I hope you will read all of the novels in which they star...and lavishly spend their riches on new wives!
Especially my complete CHRISTMAS BELLES series, out now on KU! AUNT GERT's BEAU out separately Jan. 30 ! https://www.amazon.com/Cerise-DeLand/e/B0089DS2N2/

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