Unlocking the Secrets to Ben Jonson’s Massive Net Worth: How He Became One of the Richest Writers in History

Who doesn’t love earning money? Whether it’s from a regular job or a passion-turned-business, we all want to live comfortably. However, what if one could earn massive wealth from just writing? Intriguing, right? Meet Ben Jonson, an English playwright, and poet who became the wealthiest writer in his time.


Ben Jonson, born in 1572, was a highly celebrated writer of his time. He was a contemporary of William Shakespeare, and his plays were performed in the same theaters as Shakespeare’s works. However, despite being a star in the theater world, Jonson’s net worth surpassed that of all his contemporaries. He was not born into wealth, nor did he inherit it. So, how did he manage to accumulate such wealth? In this post, we will uncover the secrets to Jonson’s massive net worth and explore the lessons we can learn from his life.

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1. The Early Life of Ben Jonson

Ben Jonson was born in Westminster, London, in 1572. He was the stepson of a bricklayer and attended St. Martin’s parish school until the age of 16, where he studied Latin and other subjects. After leaving school, Jonson worked as a bricklayer, a soldier, and then as a tutor. He soon discovered his passion for writing and began writing plays, poems, and masques (a type of theatrical performance) for King James I and other patrons.

2. Jonson’s Success in the Theater Industry

Jonson’s career took off when he began writing and publishing plays. He wrote around twenty-three plays in total, including comedies, tragedies, and masques. His most famous plays include “Volpone,” “The Alchemist,” and “Every Man in His Humour.” These plays were not only financially successful but also became famous for their wit, satire, and strong character development.

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3. The Importance of Patrons for Jonson’s Wealth

At a time when publishing was expensive and difficult, writers depended on patrons to fund their work. Jonson was lucky enough to have multiple patrons, among whom was the Earl of Newcastle, who supported Jonson’s writings and funded the publication of his play, “Bartholomew Fair.” These patrons not only financed Jonson’s plays but also opened doors to new opportunities, which helped grow his wealth and reputation.

4. Jonson’s Other Revenue Streams

Jonson’s plays brought him significant income, but he didn’t rely only on them to accumulate his wealth. He worked as a writer for the court, producing poems and masques, which paid hefty sums. Additionally, Jonson was appointed as “Master of Revels,” a royal office responsible for overseeing entertainment and festivities. This post offered Jonson a steady income from the government.

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5. The Role of Jonson’s Reputation

Ben Jonson was not only a successful playwright, but his reputation as a man of letters also brought him wealth. His standing in the literary community, his friendships with influential people, and his skill as a writer brought him many opportunities that were not available to others. He also had a reputation for being a fierce defender of his work and, therefore, often demanded and received high fees for his writing.

6. Lessons We Can Learn from Ben Jonson’s Success

The most crucial lesson that we can learn from Ben Jonson’s success is to diversify our income streams. Jonson did not rely on his plays alone to accumulate wealth, but he also wrote poems, masques, and held public offices. Additionally, having influential patrons and building a good reputation can open doors to new opportunities.

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7. FAQs about Ben Jonson’s Wealth

Q: How much was Ben Jonson worth in today’s money?
A: It is estimated that Ben Jonson’s net worth would be around $4 million in today’s money.

Q: Was Ben Jonson’s wealth unusual for his time?
A: Yes, Jonson’s wealth was unparalleled for a writer in his time.

Q: Were all of Ben Jonson’s plays successful?
A: No, not all of Jonson’s plays were financially successful. However, he had enough successful works to establish himself as a successful playwright.

Q: Did Ben Jonson have any other professional pursuits besides writing?
A: Yes, Jonson held the position of “Master of Revels,” a royal office responsible for overseeing entertainment and festivities.

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Q: How did patrons help Jonson earn wealth?
A: Patrons funded Jonson’s writing and helped him gain access to opportunities that he wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Q: Did Jonson’s reputation affect his success?
A: Yes, Jonson’s reputation as a writer and a man of letters brought him many opportunities and impacted his success.

Q: What are the lessons we can learn from Ben Jonson’s success?
A: We can learn from Jonson’s success that diversifying our income streams, building a good reputation, and having influential patrons can help us achieve financial success.


Ben Jonson’s success in accumulating wealth from his writing is nothing short of impressive. His ability to diversify his income streams, build a good reputation, and have influential patrons helped him achieve financial freedom. We can apply these same principles in our lives to achieve success in our respective fields. So, let us take inspiration from Jonson’s accomplishments to build a life of financial stability and comfort.

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