Are you in a Jane Austen novel?


Keep Austen Weird!

Keep Austen Weird!

Hilarious post by Mallory Ortberg at The Toast, via a link provided in this thread by Dr. Crazy. Well, are you? Here’s how you will know:

Someone disagreeable is trying to persuade you to take a trip to Bath.

Your father is absolutely terrible with money. No one has ever told him this.

All of your dresses look like nightgowns.

.       .       .       .       .       .

You have five hundred a year. From who? Five hundred what? No one knows. No one cares. You have it. It’s yours. Every year. All five hundred of it.

.       .       .       .       .       .

A woman who is not your mother treats you like her own daughter. Your actual mother is dead or ridiculous.

You develop a resentment at a public dance.

Some of that sounds pretty good:  the five hundred a year, and the dresses like nighties, natch.  What’s not to love?

The only addition I’d make to this list is to modify this maxim, “A member of the armed forces has revealed himself to be morally deficient,” to read, “A member of the armed forces or the clergy has revealed himself to be morally deficient.”  What additions or amendments would you make to this list?

Now where is my Captain Wentworth?

6 thoughts on “Are you in a Jane Austen novel?

  1. Isn’t the five hundred per year from guaranteed government bonds (the funds, the X percents)? Unless you’re a gentleman, in which case it’s from your estates, which you are starting to improve based on new agricultural practices. Or maybe that’s Heyer… I’ve been reading an awful lot of (British 100-years-surrounding-regency-period) historical romances recently and some go into more details than other.


  2. You have endless amounts of time on your hands to devote to embroidery, card games, and managing your neighbors’ lives.


  3. An unidentified scoundrel from Bristol, and probably a spurned suitor, has acquired the mineral rights under your family’s country seat, and in developing them, promises to dewater the ratty deer park, which was in enough trouble already…


  4. The 500 pounds a year can come from all sorts of places for women, just like the men. However typically but far from exclusively it’s from investments in bonds which usually sit around 3%. It’s a symbolic number, for whilst there is a joke that you wouldn’t marry a women with less, in practice this is a very comfortable amount of money indeed, and marks you as gentry or aristo, rather than middle class. A typical comfortable middle class family would live on about 300 at this time. In Austen however, they never define what this is, they just say x has 500 or 300 or 50 or nothing a year, as a short hand for marking their status, opportunity and level of desperation on the marriage market.


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