Jane Austen and the “10,000 Pounds A Year” Temporary Tattoo

June 8, 2015Temporary Tattoos

From the people who brought us the Jane Austen Bandages come what Austen readers have been clamoring for —  temporary tattoos.  I found mine at the elegant little museum shop adjacent to the historic Gadsby’s Tavern in Alexandria, VA,  but an Internet search for this image indicated that they are also available at Walmart.  Who knew?

“Imprudent” seems like an excellent choice for a young lady in need of a tramp stamp,  and as for the  Mr. Darcy “10,000 Pounds a Year” tattoo, wouldn’t speed dating be even speedier if people tattooed on their bicep the amount of their student loan debt? “$100K and no M.D?” . . . . ah, never mind.

This  raises a question – why does everyone know that Mr. Darcy has an income of 10,000 pounds a year and that Emma has assets of 30, 000 pounds? I don’t know how much my neighbors make. In Mansfield Park Mrs. Rushworth asks Mrs. Norris what Henry Crawford’s income is, and Mrs. Norris tells her.  I grew up being told that you didn’t talk about money or religion (and you couldn’t talk about sex enough even to say that you couldn’t talk about it). Jane Austen doesn’t talk about religion, and she would be totally on board with the whole not talking about sex thing, but her characters sure do talk about money.

Of course just because people do something in a novel doesn’t mean that that’s what they did in real life.  We need an historian or at least someone who reads all the letters that the 19th century folk wrote to one another.  Did people know as much about each other’s money as Austen characters know?  And how did they find out? Especially without the Internet.

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