It turns out that, if converted to 2013 GBP (the most recent year for which full information is available) using the percentage increase in the retail price index since the estimated time the novel was set, Mr Darcy's annual income of £10,000 in around 1803 would be worth £796,000 per year today. That still probably wouldn't be enough to run a modern incarnation of Pemberley, his beautiful fictional stately home in Derbyshire, if its costs were anything like the costs of running real-life Derbyshire stately home Chatsworth House today (£4m per year). Chatsworth stood in for Pemberley in the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. But costs such as the employment of servants, and all the other trappings of aristocracy, were much cheaper relative to income in 1803. In terms of spending power, Darcy would have been able to buy more with what he had. So his income, and in particular his financial power and influence, might be more faithfully translated using a measure that takes into account changes in GDP per capita, as well as the far greater gap between rich and poor that existed in the early 19th century. That figure works out at around £12m per year - enough to run three whole Chatsworths.
It's hard to say exactly how much Mr Darcy would have been worth in total, but the Duke of Devonshire, who currently lives in the 297-room Chatsworth House, is estimated to be worth around £500m.
The matchmaking heroine Emma Woodhouse, on the other hand, inherits a lump sum of £30,000 in Austen's novel, Emma, written in 1815. Today, that's the equivalent of a £1.9m windfall. But the "prestige value" of Emma's inheritance - again, what it was worth compared to per capita GDP, or the average of how much most other people had - would actually be worth around £28m in today's money, making her an influential heiress.
This table was calculated using values from 1810 as an indicator for the time in which Austen's novels were written.
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