I’m reading Mrs Dalloway (it’s wonderful) and as in every British novel set in upper class 19th or early 20th century Britain they keep talking about how much people have a year. To keep his Indian divorcee, her children, and himself, Peter Walsh needs a job that will pay at least £500, he thinks, which is the same sum as Woolf herself believes a woman needs a year to write, £500 a year and a room of her own. I’ve always wondered how much £500 a year is, and it’s not excessive, it turns out, certainly not enough to keep servants today, though you’d be able to afford a room and kitchen of your own, and payments on your student debts too: in 1923 £500 had the same purchase power as £17949.01 today. That’s about what they pay us while we’re working on our PhDs in Norway, so yes, it’s enough to write.
You’ll find more converters for historical values of money in many different currencies at a very useful collection called Current Value of Old Money. There’s even a converter for the historical value of Norwegian kroner, from 1865 to today, kindly provided by Statistisk SentralbyrÂ, which really has a very impressive website.
4 thoughts on “money”
Goodness, £17949 is considerably more than UK PhD students are paid; the typical salary for a PhD student in Britain is currently £9000 per year! (People are, in fact, very excited about this salary — last year £8000 was the norm.)
An aside: while at Post-Invasion Poetics last night, I overheard a student comment that his advisor, one of the poets present, “really is Mrs. Dalloway….”
Ye gods! At my graduate institution, the take-home pay was only about US$800/month (nothing during summers) and that’s with teaching three courses (one/quarter). Granted this was 5-10 years ago, but still….
Of course, my *current* institution is even worse: the graduate stipend is a mammoth $5000/year. But these are only masters students, who are often lucky to find any support at all.
They said she was Mrs Dalloway? God, I hope no one ever says that about me. She’s so closed tight, for all her wonderful thoughts and feelings… A warning more than something to aspire to.
As for the money, I know, Norwegians doing PhDs get paid more than just about anywhere else, but they’re also on average older and have studied and worked for longer before they get the grant. Look:
With my huge student loan, a daughter and being nearly thirty by the time I qualified, I sure wouldn’t have taken the risk of doing a PhD if it had meant incurring even more debt and continuing to live on the pittance I’d been surviving on as a student.
Post-Invasion Poetics? Goodness.
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