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 Post subject: Paying for large families - is it really possible?
PostPosted: 27 Jul 2012, 16:03 
This came to my mind after dreading a comment by RubyGates:

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... if they'd had to pay for all their kids' schooling they might well have found it a bit more of a problem having so many.


So I though it might be interesting to discuss the real problems Joey and Jack would have faced, having so many children. Mods, if this is better in LBLB, please move.

See, we're told, through Len, that her family isn't rich by any means, yet they live in an expensive part of the world, their father works as a privately paid doctor there and al the children are educated privately. We never have any inkling that the Maynards' are stggling financially if we base that on 'we can't afford to have any more children' and in fact they expand what they have by their many wards and adoptees.

Although Joey doesn't go out to work, she is a popular writer of children's literature, so she must also have a good income (I suspect that this enterprise paid more than it might do today, back then). So she and jack are both earning well and able to fund their family requirements, especially when it comes to selective education.

What do you think of this situation? Are you convinced by their view that they're 'not rich'? Does anyone know what kind of income one would have to have nowadays in order to have this many children at private schools?

And anything else you fancy!


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 Post subject: Re: Paying for large families - is it really possible?
PostPosted: 27 Jul 2012, 16:39 
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I suppose Jo would have made a similar amount of money out of writing to EBD, and I don't think EBD made a fortune. She didn't completely give up teaching until relatively late in life did she? So for most of her life writing didn't bring in enough money by itself.


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 Post subject: Re: Paying for large families - is it really possible?
PostPosted: 27 Jul 2012, 17:41 
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The girls all got their school education for free, so they were in a better position than people like the Lucys and the Chesters who also had big families and had to pay for them all, and Jack would have been earning a lot more than Peter Chester. There were no trust funds or rich grandparents to help out, though: Jack's mother left a bit of money to the triplets, but the fact that Jack gave Pretty Maids to the NT suggests that he was left with a very nasty inheritance bill after his dad and brother died within a few years of each other.

I don't know about boarding schools, but private day school fees in our area are (according to the school websites) now running at around £10,000 per year per child. So for 12 children (including Claire but not the wards) you'd be looking at £120,000 per year, out of your post-tax income, and for boarding schools it must be far more. I've no idea what the situation was like in the 1950s, because school fees have gone up by a lot more than inflation, but for so many children it would still have cost a fortune.

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 Post subject: Re: Paying for large families - is it really possible?
PostPosted: 27 Jul 2012, 17:43 
Yes, that's an interesting point, isn't it? I have no idea at all about how much money authors of such books would have made, but Elinor did have enough as a single woman alone to be able to buy a building and run it as a school for some time, so she wasn't like a lot of single women of the time, in terms of wealth, I mean.

But even if we assume that Joey didn't make that much then, Jack would have done, no?

Alison has just posted and mentioned that the girls all got their education free. Now, for some reason or other I had thought that that wasn't entirely the case. Am I wrong, then?


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 Post subject: Re: Paying for large families - is it really possible?
PostPosted: 27 Jul 2012, 18:04 
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If the Maynard girls were there free, were the Bettany girls as well? All children of the siblings of the founder.....I seem to remember the CS became a Limited Company, were there reduced rates for shareholders?
And what about the San? Was Jack 'paid', or did he just take a share of the profits?
If they were really poor they could have sold some of those priceless antiques that appear at Freudesheim...they were the sort of poor who could buy a holiday home.....or give up smoking...


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 Post subject: Re: Paying for large families - is it really possible?
PostPosted: 27 Jul 2012, 18:06 
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julieanne1811 wrote:
We never have any inkling that the Maynards' are stggling financially if we base that on 'we can't afford to have any more children' and in fact they expand what they have by their many wards and adoptees.

I don't think making this kind of admission would have been acceptable in the genre. I think it's important to realize that, in some segments of society (particularly before environmental impact became a moral issue), to base family size solely on what you thought you could "afford" would have been considered "selfish": a sign that you placed Mammon above God and were likely to raise a few spoiled objects rather than children who learned responsibility and the importance of sharing. Taking on additional 'wards' would have been considered an act of love and generosity. Of course in real life, despite the positive aspects, large families did frequently translate into stressed parents, resentment over there being less to go around, and dealing with abuse from those who associated large families with fecklessness and (pick local target of bigotry), to which the main defenses would have been (A) joking about family size, (B) expressing pride in family.

That said, I would place the Maynards as on the more fortunate edge of middle class, though definitely obliged to budget. Without a girls' school and medical care in the family, two incomes (though Jo's seemed to go for "extras"), and a (then) state-funded university system, they'd have had a very tough time making ends meet. They might still have considered private education a priority, particularly if Jack's job kept them in Switzerland but they hoped for their children to attend British universities.

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 Post subject: Re: Paying for large families - is it really possible?
PostPosted: 27 Jul 2012, 18:16 
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EBD seems to swing to and fro about the Maynards finances. They seem to easily afford two houses but Jo says they couldn't have afforded Margot's Australia trip except for the fact that it would be free bar pocket money. I seem to remember that Jo says that Granny Maynard's money paid for the triplet's and Stephen's education. It would hardly be fair on the other shareholders if Jo's vast family were educated free. I would imagine it would be reduced fees or paid for out of her dividends.
"I see the fees have gone up again. Has Mrs Maynard had more triplets?"


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 Post subject: Re: Paying for large families - is it really possible?
PostPosted: 27 Jul 2012, 18:29 
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Jennie wrote a brilliant drabble on the subject of the effect on the school's finances of the number of MBR girls educated for free :lol: . Unless the appropriate entries were made on tax returns, the CS would have been fiddling its tax bill big style; and Hilda must have wanted to cry at the amount of lost income that could have gone on increasing staff wages or buying new books and apparatus, not to mention dividends for other shareholders.

Dick and Mollie produced 4 kids in about 5 years. Maeve and Maurice's age was later EBD-d so that they ended up being the same age as Josette, but Mollie told Jo in Jo Returns, when Jackie was only a baby, that she was expecting yet again, so originally they had 6 kids in 6 years. Then there was a very big gap - later on it would have been due to Mollie's thyroid problems, but I wonder if Jem, imagining himself and Madge ending up with a dozen Bettany kids to look after, had a little man-to-man chat with Dick during the Bettanys' last visit to Tyrol :lol: .


ETA - when scholarships for Nita and Tom are being discussed at the beginning of Oberland, we're told that the other girls are from wealthy families who can afford this year in Switzerland for them. Unless the finishing branch charged a lot more than the main branch did when it moved out there, that's acknowledging that sending one daughter to the CS in Switzerland for one year is very expensive, never mind several daughters for several years as people like the Lucys did.

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 Post subject: Re: Paying for large families - is it really possible?
PostPosted: 27 Jul 2012, 23:28 
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Wouldn't the costs of keeping and schooling Erica and the three R's be pretty low for the Maynards? Didn't their parents make provisions for them when they made the Maynards their guardians?

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 Post subject: Re: Paying for large families - is it really possible?
PostPosted: 28 Jul 2012, 10:11 
Mel wrote:
I seem to remember that Jo says that Granny Maynard's money paid for the triplet's and Stephen's education. It would hardly be fair on the other shareholders if Jo's vast family were educated free. I would imagine it would be reduced fees or paid for out of her dividends.



Oh, I think it's specifically stated (maybe in that same conversation between Joey and Hilda about large families and finances?) that the Maynard girls are educated for free, isn't it? And yes, I entirely agree about the effect on the other shareholders!

I think EBD has a slightly funny attitude to the Maynards' finances - she wants to depict them as being frugal and not-rich, presumably to seem like 'ordinary people' to her readers and because she's pretty suspicious of wealth in general, but she's also up against the fact that eleven biological children in private education, and several wards/adoptees, two houses and two or three staff etc simply don't come cheap!

Even if we assume the girls are educated for free, five boys at an English public school would cost insane sums, plus cost of their travel back and forth to Switzerland (though they're not all there at once, obviously). And presumably Joey and Jack still need to pay for the girls' outfits, books, uniforms, music lessons, sports and ski equipment etc. Would expeditions be extra, too?

And then she depicts them as doing insanely generous things like funding Reg's entire education and medical training, on top of their own large family's needs. Yet, she is keen to emphasise their hand-me-down ginghams and the fact that Minnie is purchased with a windfall, not out of Maynard income...


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 Post subject: Re: Paying for large families - is it really possible?
PostPosted: 28 Jul 2012, 12:01 
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The original point of the CS was that the Bettanys were short of money, and I can't imagine that people like Herr Mensch and Herr Marani had "private incomes" (how I hate that expression!!) other than a bit of bank interest on money they'd saved up. Then Madge married a very wealthy man, Joey married someone whose family home ended up being donated to the National Trust, and Dick conveniently inherited a huge house from a rich godfather, and by the later books Joey was carrying on like some sort of Jane Austen character who was obsessed with how much Vanna's fiancé and Reg had got by way of "private income" and Josette (then aged 15) was telling Len that Jem said Bride's fiancé'd do OK financially.

There was a big change along the way, and I think sometimes EBD did want to get back to presenting the Bettanys as "ordinary" people.

There's a scene in Richenda in which Ricki says that she'll be taking extra art, the girls start discussing extras, Ros says that she'd quite like to learn a musical instrument but it's not an option because her scholarship doesn't cover it, and Len says airily that the Gays probably just didn't think of it because Tom wasn't into music and that she's sure they won't mind paying the extra if Ros asks them! It's never mentioned again and I'm sure Ros wouldn't have dreamt of asking the Gays for more money, but it says something about Len's attitude towards school fees etc.

Prof Richardson seems to've had loads of money so the Maynards wouldn't have had to pay for Roger, Ruey and Roddy's education, and presumably Erica inherited some money.

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 Post subject: Re: Paying for large families - is it really possible?
PostPosted: 28 Jul 2012, 14:26 
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Alison H wrote:
The girls all got their school education for free, so they were in a better position than people like the Lucys and the Chesters who also had big families and had to pay for them all, and Jack would have been earning a lot more than Peter Chester. There were no trust funds or rich grandparents to help out, though: Jack's mother left a bit of money to the triplets, but the fact that Jack gave Pretty Maids to the NT suggests that he was left with a very nasty inheritance bill after his dad and brother died within a few years of each other.

I don't know about boarding schools, but private day school fees in our area are (according to the school websites) now running at around £10,000 per year per child. So for 12 children (including Claire but not the wards) you'd be looking at £120,000 per year, out of your post-tax income, and for boarding schools it must be far more. I've no idea what the situation was like in the 1950s, because school fees have gone up by a lot more than inflation, but for so many children it would still have cost a fortune.


Thats interesting, where I live (Oxfordshire) day school fees are about 5,000 per term with boarding school fees going up to about 10,000 per term. I think its lucky that they Maynards don't have to pay fees as otherwisw the ywould have no money left for anything else!

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 Post subject: Re: Paying for large families - is it really possible?
PostPosted: 28 Jul 2012, 14:34 
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For me, the Maynards seem like the kind of upper middle class family who see public school as an essential (Jack sending his sons to his alma mater, Joey doing the same with her daughters) and have factored that in. After those kind of costs have been prioritised, I can see that they might not actually be that cash rich, in terms of every day expenditure. Hence statements about Margot's trip to Australia (which, to be fair, I always read as "we can't justify spending so much money on one child alone" rather than "we don't have the cash") and buying Minnie with a rather dubious sounding windfall that perhaps should have gone to the San itself rather than to Jack personally.

On another note, I know we hear about Granny Maynard's money going to the Triplets and Stephen, but presumably the Maynard family money has already gone to Bob, Jack and Mollie, as the only surviving children, on the death of their father - the bit the Triplets and Stephen have got is presumably just Granny's personal money? (The fact that the house ends up with Jack suggests some kind of entail, otherwise Bob might perhaps have left it to his widow?) In spite of death duties, I reckon this leaves Jack with a pretty decent inheritance. And he's not just head of the San but potentially a part owner of the San group, seeing as he's Jem's right hand man.

Random asides: I wonder who bought Freudesheim and how much it cost? It was a failed pension, no? So it might have been going cheap / in need of a lot of work. And it might even be "the house of the head of the san", rather than Jack's personally....

I'd like to think Joey's CS share dividends are used to pay for the girls eduction. She presumably owns quite a lot of shares.


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 Post subject: Re: Paying for large families - is it really possible?
PostPosted: 28 Jul 2012, 15:21 
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They landed themselves with a huge amount of extra expense by moving to the Oberland. If they'd been somewhere where there was a suitable English-speaking boys' prep school nearby, presumably the boys could have gone there as day pupils until they were 13. David, Rix and Jackie all went to the Hereford/Armiford Cathedral School, which must have been a lot cheaper than starting them off at boarding school at 7 or 8. There was all the travelling to pay for as well. Jack's salary must have taken relocation costs etc into account, but any increase can't have covered the cost of sending 5 sons to boarding school several years earlier than they might have gone otherwise.

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 Post subject: Re: Paying for large families - is it really possible?
PostPosted: 28 Jul 2012, 18:20 
And Jem sells the Chalet School to Mr Lannis when they exile, doesn't he? No, I wonder what on earther Mr L planned on doing with it? The US didn't enter the war until much later, of course, so perhaps at this point they didn't have concerns about working in Austria?

And I wonder how much Jem would have got? I can imagine Mr Lannis paying generously ...


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 Post subject: Re: Paying for large families - is it really possible?
PostPosted: 28 Jul 2012, 19:39 
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It was actually Mr Flower, which is even odder because Mr Lannis was (in some of the books, anyway) based in Tyrol whereas Mr Flower wasn't.

Madge says somewhere that they took a big hit on both the school and the San. I can't imagine Mr Flower paying over the odds - it was a business deal - and the Russells weren't really in a position to get involved in protracted negotiations. I don't suppose the Nazi authorities paid anything like full whack for the San either. Then they'd've lost out again when they had to leave Guernsey after less than two years. &, on top of the capital loss, their income would have fallen: the San would have lost a lot of patients, and the school was closed completely for months and then reopened as a much smaller concern. The overall dent in their finances would have been pretty major ... although they could still afford a huge place like the Round House when they got to Armishire!

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 Post subject: Re: Paying for large families - is it really possible?
PostPosted: 28 Jul 2012, 19:56 
Alison H wrote:
It was actually Mr Flower, which is even odder because Mr Lannis was (in some of the books, anyway) based in Tyrol whereas Mr Flower wasn't.


Thank you for the correction Alison :roll: !


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 Post subject: Re: Paying for large families - is it really possible?
PostPosted: 28 Jul 2012, 23:05 
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there were a number of pupils at my school whose parents worked for organisations such as the UN and lived abroad. The children all had their school fees (including boarding) paid for, and one trip per year back to the country their parents were stationed in. Lord Steel is one of our famous FPs, and he benefited from this boarding scheme when his father was working abroad as a minister for the Church of Scotland.Maybe Jack swung a similar deal for the boys when he agreed to move to Switzerland, and only agreed if the San would pay for the boys' school fees? after all, they had 4 sons at that point, so their education had to be a major factor to take into account, along with the financial side of it.

Re the girls' fees - I'd always supposed that they actually went free, from various comments that Joey made about not having to worry about their fees. I'd never thought of this coming out of her dividends. Perhaps the CS operated the scheme common to many independant schools, whereby children of teachers, members of the governing body (the Merchant Company of Edinburgh for my school) only pay 1/10th of the fees?

So education costs might not be very great at all, and maybe even less for the boys than if they had stayed in Britain!

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 Post subject: Re: Paying for large families - is it really possible?
PostPosted: 29 Jul 2012, 07:19 
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Caroline wrote:
For me, the Maynards seem like the kind of upper middle class family who see public school as an essential


When Mary-Lou first meets the Maynards, she tells them that she's just moved to the area and is going to be starting at a school there. Len immediately says that this must be the CS because the only other school nearby is the village school (i.e. a state school) and "you won't be going there". She's only known Mary-Lou for five minutes and knows next to nothing about her, but she's already got her down as someone who definitely won't be going to a state school.

Joey and Grizel started off at the local high school, Kathie Ferrars went to a day school, and the girls in some of EBD's other books go to day schools, so maybe they'd've sent the girls to a local grammar school if there'd been one nearby (and Joey's sister hadn't owned the CS, obviously!). Not so sure about the boys?

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 Post subject: Re: Paying for large families - is it really possible?
PostPosted: 29 Jul 2012, 10:29 
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I think Jo's High School would have been fee-paying though in the 1920s surely. Stephen is sent briefly to a local Primary School when they are in Britain - was it Carnbach or Howells? Though Jack is worried about the language he will pick up, which could hardly be bad language at that age and in those times so could be accent/dialect.


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