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The Coxon Fund

The Coxon Fund

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Plot summary

At Wimbledon, outside London, the Mulvilles entertain with their guest Frank Saltram, a man “who had found out something” and they claim its everything; he poses as an intellectual when in fact he is a con man or perhaps a holy fool (possessed, regardless, of a real and powerful gift to delight with his conversation), conning the Mulvilles into paying his debts; the story revolves around Saltram and people who are fascinated with the man; Mulvilles also want to reunite Saltram with his estranged wife who plays the role of troublemaker in the story. Saltram is unsuccessful on all fronts, other than being entertaining as a dinner guest.

Includes frequent common theme of James, interplay between Americans and British. Ruth Anvoy, an American woman, comes to see her aunt, Lady Coxon, who though born in the United States married a Brit and is now a widow; she meets George Gravener who has a future in politics and real intellect, he despises Saltram for being a fraud; Gravener and Ms. Anvoy become engaged, her father is very rich and she is a free spender, part of their relationship revolves around the large sum the couple will receive upon marriage; this changes as her father gets hit in the panic of 1893 and loses most of what he has, then he dies as Ruth Anvoy has returned to America to check on her family; she does not return for some time, neither does Gravener attempt to bring her back, so the engagement is in question, and her money is gone, there is no large inheritance now.

Saltram has moved out from the Mulvilles and has gone to the Pudneys, who have more money, quite disrespecting all the Mulvilles had done for him; Ms. Anvoy returns to London and her aunt dies, a fortune is left to her, but there was a stipulation in the original Will when the money was left to her aunt that requests a sum of 13,000 pounds be set up into a fund for a forward thinker, money for a great man to publish and find “Moral Truth”; yet she has the option of keeping the money, this is Gravener’s preference, he wants to use the money to buy a house after they are married, but Ruth says no I must honor the request. This results in a reversal of their engagement.

She picks Saltram as the candidate to receive the Coxon Fund, though she has suspicions about him. The narrator has information that will prove Saltram a fraud and he offers to show it to Ruth but she says no, destroy it, her decision has been made; The narrator liked Ruth from the first, yet neither gets married, Gravener marries a woman who is “criminally dull,” the Mulvilles suffer from boredom and they all miss the good ole days; Saltram produces nothing, ceasing to publish anything from the day he comes into the money from the Coxon Fund, proving that he was a complete fraud.

Classical reference to old man of the sea, also in Homer’s Odyssey and the Arabian Nights. http://www.thefreelibrary.com/_/search/Search.aspx?SearchBy=4&Word=old+man+of+the+sea&Search=Search&By=0 This is found in chapter two.

Issues of inheritance and marriage based upon a dowry. In the late 19th and early 20th century, perhaps today also, it was fairly common for a wealthy American heiress to marry a Brit for the prestige of his title, with she receiving the benefits of said title and the Brit to become well funded and maintain the family estate.


  • Mr Frank Saltram, a debt-ridden writer
  • Adelaide and Kent Mulville
  • Mr George Gravener
  • Mrs Saltram
  • Miss Ruth Anvoy, a girl from Boston
    Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

  • Lady Coxon, an American widow. She is Miss Anvoy's aunt.
  • Sir Gregory Coxon, Lady Coxon's late husband and former mayor of Clockborough.
  • The Pudneys
  • Lady Maddock

External links