Jane Austen (1775–1817)
Autograph note concerning the "Profits of my Novels, over and above the £600 in the Navy Fives" ca. March 1817
9.4 x 11.4 cm
Purchased by J. P. Morgan, Jr.,1925; MA 1034.5
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Austen invested the profits of her first three published novels in £600 worth of "Navy Fives," government stock that returned five percent interest annually, bringing her £30 each year. A memorandum of her personal expenditure in 1807 (MA 2911.2), in which she spent over £42, demonstrates that the profits from her novels were not sufficient to support her independently. This note records profits from the sale of Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma between March 1816 and March 1817. The final entry (7 March 1817) was written only four months before her death, leading the biographer Claire Tomalin to suggest that Austen prepared these accounts when she became ill and began to draft her will.
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