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Gentlemen of Uncertain Fortune: How Younger Sons Made Their Way in Jane Austen's England

by Rory Muir Yale University Press
Pub Date:
Hbk 384 pages
AU$63.99 NZ$66.08
Product Status: In Stock Now
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In Jane Austen’s 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, with each career having its own attractions, drawbacks and peculiarities.


This is the first scholarly yet accessible 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.
“Energetic and scholarly” — Paula Byrne, The Times

 “Meticulously researched and eminently readable”—Fergus Butler-Gallie, Literary Review

Rory Muir is a visiting research fellow at the University of Adelaide and a renowned expert on British history. His books include Britain and the Defeat of Napoleon and his two-part biography of Wellington, which won the SAHR Templer Medal.