Cents & Sensibility: Jane Austen would be worth a fortune if she lived today

30 July 2017 - 00:00 By Sarah Buitendach

It is a truth universally acknowledged that having your face on a bank note means you've hit the legacy jackpot. Romantics the world over will be please to know that their favourite literary darling, Jane Austen, has made that particular cut, on the 200th anniversary of her death.
Dear Jane is set to grace England's £10 note (it's already being called the "Aus-Tenner") alongside Lizzie Bennet, the heroine of Pride and Prejudice.
The irony of this would no doubt have amused the writer, who was relatively little recognised for her work while she was alive and spent her days acutely aware of money and the lack thereof.
The financial situation for females in 18th and 19th century England was often precarious, especially if they were not from moneyed stock, didn't stand to inherit much and never married. Jane ticked all those boxes, and the issue of women's wealth was a recurring theme in her books.
Fast-forward two centuries and Jane would have led a very different existence. Sure, she'd have baulked at the lack of bonnets and barouches and no doubt admonished Tinder users, but boy would she have been in the, erm, pound seats.
Her name is a worldwide franchise that extends far beyond her six novels and short 41 years of Hampshire life. It is the cult of Jane Austen.
Devoted Janeites love her for the genteel worlds she conjures, the commentary on everyday life and, especially, the happy endings. If she'd had a finger in the following endeavors linked to her name, she'd have been able to buy Pemberley and Netherfield Park with pocket change.THE FILMS
A film set in a 1990s Los Angeles high school about ridiculous rich kids is actually a retelling of Austen's Emma? As if! And yet, Clueless was an Austen homage - and an outright hit.To celebrate Austen's bicentennial, there's the Austen Project in which the likes of Joanna Trollope, Alexander McCall Smith and Curtis Sittenfeld pen modern versions of the classic novels.
If you'd like the kids to taste of the Austen Kool-Aid early, give them the BabyLit primers of her work. No doubt they will delight in counting "One English village, two rich gentlemen and four marriage proposals."
Or you could spend hours shading in your favourite iteration of ladies taking a turn about a room in any number of themed colouring books for adults.
And, of course, there are the countless festivals and societies. Because why read Persuasion when you could live it? Most notably, there's the annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath, which lasts a week and promises, most divertingly, a ball. Colonel Brandons and Edmund Bertrams not guaranteed.

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