23 December 1815

fourth novel by Jane Austen, published in three volumes in 1815. Set in Highbury, England, in the early 19th century, the novel centres on Emma Woodhouse, a precocious young woman whose misplaced confidence in her matchmaking abilities occasions seve...

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fourth novel by Jane Austen, published in three volumes in 1815. Set in Highbury, England, in the early 19th century, the novel centres on Emma Woodhouse, a precocious young woman whose misplaced confidence in her matchmaking abilities occasions several romantic misadventures.

Emma, by Jane Austen, is a novel about youthful hubris and the perils of misconstrued romance. The story takes place in the fictional village of Highbury and the surrounding estates of Hartfield, Randalls, and Donwell Abbey and involves the relationships among individuals in those locations consisting of "3 or 4 families in a country village". The novel was first published in December 1815, with its title page listing a publication date of 1816. As in her other novels, Austen explores the concerns and difficulties of genteel women living in Georgian–Regency England; she also creates a lively comedy of manners among her characters and depicts issues of marriage, gender, age, and social status.

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Austen's plots often explore the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favourable social standing and economic security. Her works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century literary realism. Her use of biting irony, along with her realism, humour, and social commentary, have long earned her acclaim among critics, scholars, and popular audiences alike.


With the publications of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1816), she achieved success as a published writer. She wrote two additional novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818, and began another, eventually titled Sanditon, but died before its completion. She also left behind three volumes of juvenile writings in manuscript, a short epistolary novel Lady Susan, and another unfinished novel, The Watsons. Her six full-length novels have rarely been out of print, although they were published anonymously and brought her moderate success and little fame during her lifetime.


A significant transition in her posthumous reputation occurred in 1833, when her novels were republished in Richard Bentley's Standard Novels series, illustrated by Ferdinand Pickering, and sold as a set. They gradually gained wider acclaim and popular readership. In 1869, fifty-two years after her death, her nephew's publication of A Memoir of Jane Austen introduced a compelling version of her writing career and supposedly uneventful life to an eager audience.


Austen has inspired many critical essays and literary anthologies. Her novels have inspired many films, from 1940's Pride and Prejudice to more recent productions like Sense and Sensibility (1995), Emma (1996), Mansfield Park (1999), Pride & Prejudice (2005), and Love & Friendship (2016).

List of works




    Sense and Sensibility (1811)

    Pride and Prejudice (1813)

    Mansfield Park (1814)

    Emma (1815)

    Northanger Abbey (1818, posthumous)

    Persuasion (1818, posthumous)

    Lady Susan (1871, posthumous)


Unfinished fiction


    The Watsons (1804)

    Sanditon (1817)


Other works


    Sir Charles Grandison (adapted play) (1793, 1800)[p]

    Plan of a Novel (1815)

    Poems (1796–1817)

    Prayers (1796–1817)

    Letters (1796–1817)


Juvenilia—Volume the First (1787–1793)[q]


    Frederic & Elfrida

    Jack & Alice

    Edgar & Emma

    Henry and Eliza

    The Adventures of Mr. Harley

    Sir William Mountague

    Memoirs of Mr. Clifford

    The Beautifull Cassandra

    Amelia Webster

    The Visit

    The Mystery

    The Three Sisters

    A beautiful description

    The generous Curate

    Ode to Pity


Juvenilia—Volume the Second (1787–1793)


    Love and Freindship

    Lesley Castle

    The History of England

    A Collection of Letters

    The female philosopher

    The first Act of a Comedy

    A Letter from a Young Lady

    A Tour through Wales

    A Tale


Juvenilia—Volume the Third (1787–1793)



    Catherine, or The Bower


Before she began the novel, Austen wrote, "I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like."In the first sentence, she introduces the title character as "Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and a happy disposition... and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her." Emma is spoiled, headstrong, and self-satisfied; she greatly overestimates her own matchmaking abilities; she is blind to the dangers of meddling in other people's lives; and her imagination and perceptions often lead her astray.


Emma, written after Austen's move to Chawton, was the last novel to be completed and published during her life, as Persuasion, the last novel Austen wrote, was published posthumously.


This novel has been adapted for several films, many television programmes, and a long list of stage plays. It is also the inspiration for several novels.


See also: Jane Austen in popular culture - Emma


Emma has been the subject of many adaptations for film, TV, radio and the stage. The profusion of adaptations based on Jane Austen's novels has not only created a large contemporary fan base but has also sparked extensive scholarly examination on both the process and effect of modernizing the narratives and moving them between mediums. Examples of this critical, academic work can be found in texts such as Recreating Jane Austen by John Wiltshire, Jane Austen in Hollywood edited by Troost and Greenfield, and Jane Austen and Co.: Remaking the Past in Contemporary Culture edited by Pucci and Thompson and Adapting Jane Austen: The Surprising Fidelity of 'Clueless' by William Galperin to name a few.



    1995: Clueless, a loose American modern adaptation of the novel, set in Beverly Hills and starring Alicia Silverstone as Cher Horowitz (Emma)

    1996: Emma, an American comedy starring Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma

    2010: Aisha, an Indian modern adaptation of the novel, starring Sonam Kapoor as Aisha (Emma).

    2020: Emma, directed by Autumn de Wilde, starring Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma Woodhouse and Johnny Flynn as Mr. Knightley.




    1948: Emma, live BBC TV broadcast, starring Judy Campbell (who also wrote the screenplay) as Emma, and directed and produced by Michael Barry

    1954: Emma, live NBC TV broadcast, starring Felicia Montealegre as Emma

    1957: Emma, another live NBC TV broadcast in their Matinee Theater series, starring Sarah Churchill as Emma

    1960: Emma, live BBC TV serial in six parts, starring Diana Fairfax as Emma and directed by Campbell Logan

    1960: Emma, live CBS TV broadcast in their Camera Three series, starring Nancy Wickwire as Emma.

    1972: Emma, a six-part BBC miniseries, starring Doran Godwin as Emma

    1996: Emma, an ITV TV film, starring Kate Beckinsale as Emma

    2009: Emma, a four-part BBC miniseries, starring Romola Garai as Emma




    2013: Emma Approved, a YouTube web series produced by Pemberley Digital and developed by Bernie Su, starring Joanna Sotomura as Emma.

    2017: The Emma Agenda, a YouTube web series produced by Quip Modest Productions, starring Selis Maria Vargas as Emma. In this version, The role of Mr. Knightley is a female hence makes it the first lesbian version of Emma on screen.




    1991: Emma, a stage adaptation by British playwright Michael Fry, first produced by the Cloucester Stage Company in 1991, and since then produced by a number of theatre companies in Britain and the US

    2000: Emma, a musical written by Stephen Karam and first showed by the Brownbrokers student theatre group at Brown University under the direction of Darius Pierce. In 2004 Karam's musical was played at the New York Musical Theatre Festival under the direction of Patricia Birch.

    A theatrical adaptation by Michael Napier Brown was performed at the Royal Theatre in Northampton in 2000

    2007: Jane Austen's Emma – A Musical Romantic Comedy, a musical written by Paul Gordon, which premiered at TheatreWorks in Menlo Park, California. This musical has since been performed at the Cincinnati Playhouse, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis and the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego.

    2009: Emma, a stage adaption by Rachel Atkins for the Book-It Repertory Theatre in Seattle, directed by Marcus Goodwin with Sylvie Davidson in the title role




    Joan Aiken wrote a companion novel, Jane Fairfax: The Secret Story of the Second Heroine in Jane Austen's Emma.

    Alexander McCall Smith has written a modern version, titled Emma: A Modern Retelling (2014)

    Reginald Hill wrote Poor Emma in 1987, included in the 2007 paperback There is no ghost in the Soviet Union, where finance plays a crucial role.

    The importance of being Emma, a novel published in 2008 by Juliet Archer, is a modern version of Emma

    Emma and the Werewolves: Jane Austen and Adam Rann, Adam Rann, is a parody of Emma which by its title, its presentation and its history, seeks to give the illusion that the novel had been written jointly by Adam Rann and Jane Austen, that is, a mash-up novel.

    Emma and the Vampires, a 2010 installation of the Jane Austen Undead Novels by Wayne Josephson, preserves the basic plot of Austen's original while adding contemporary humor and a thematic flair for the undead.

    The Matchmaker: An Amish Retelling of Jane Austen's Emma (2015) by Sarah Price

    Emma Ever After, a 2018 modern retelling of Emma by Brigid Coady. In this version, Emma is a PR manager for celebrities and George "Gee" Knightley is the former member of a boy band.




    In June 2015, manga adaptation was published by Manga Classics Inc. was adopted by Crystal S. Chan, art by Po Tse.






I loved Emma, as I have done with every other novel by Jane Austen. In my opinion she was a genius!


I find her style of writing enjoyable to read; her plots are funny and full of wit. She uses irony to ridicule the upper classes of her time and also paint a vivid picture for how the women of that class led their lives.


Emma Woodhouse is a financially secure woman who remarkably is in a state of power in her household. This gives her the option to ‘never marry.’ However, Jane Fairfax is not so lucky and is set on the path of employment as a governess. Set in the country town of Highbury, Emma lives at Hartfield with her father, neighbours to their dear friends at Randalls – Mr and Mrs Weston. Emma fancies herself the master of matchmaking and, when the mysterious Frank Churchill reconnects with his father Mr Weston, mischief and heartbreak ensues.



The plot was amusing and engaging and I genuinely found it a real page-turner. Despite the fact that Austen narrates their drama with a slight tone of sarcasm I still felt like I connected with the characters and actually cared what happened to them. I even liked Miss Bates, the annoying aunt of Jane Fairfax who had sunk from prosperity into unfortunate circumstances.


The romance aspect to it was one of the reasons that I loved it so much; I really wanted the characters to figure out who was engaged to who because as the reader I already knew. It was exciting and fun and made Emma overall light-hearted and a joy to read from beginning to end.


However, the language is of a more difficult standard so if you weren’t up for a more challenging read Emma probably isn’t the book for you. Saying this though, I would still highly recommend it to those who are.


age appropriate: 15 years old and up


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