Gentlemen of Uncertain Fortune: How Younger Sons Made Their Way in Jane Austen’s England – A fresh portrait of Jane Austen’s England told through the career paths of younger sons – men of good family but small fortune.
In Regency England the eldest son usually inherited almost everything while his younger brothers, left with little inheritance had to make a crucial decision: what should they do to make an independent living?
If they were to remain ‘gentlemen’, only a few options, such as joining the Church or the army, were available to them. Each of these careers had its own attractions, drawbacks and peculiarities, and Gentlemen of Uncertain Fortune is the first exploration of the lifestyle and prospects afforded by these different professions.
Rory Muir weaves together the stories of many young men, both well known and obscure – including Austen’s brothers and Sydney Smith – while shedding a great deal of light on Regency society. Life for these ‘privileged’ young men was not particularly easy and success was often elusive, whatever career they pursued.
Gentlemen of Uncertain Fortune: How Younger Sons Made Their Way in Jane Austen’s England
Hardback, 384 pages