Before writing Emma, Jane Austen once expressed, "I am going to take a heroine whom no-one but myself will much like" (James Edward Austen-Leigh's Memoir of Jane Austen, p. 158). Most believe that the author was at least half-joking when she said this, as Emma Woodhouse is often a great favorite among readers. The character aside, however, the story itself is simply brilliant. Part romance, part comedy, part drama, and part "detective novel," there's an element to please anybody in this book.
Austen wrote the novel over the period encompassing January 21, 1814 - March 29, 1815. At his request, she dedicated Emma to her most high-profile fan, the Prince Regent. This is a bit strange, considering that she didn't care much for him, his conduct towards his wife, or his personality in general. He received a special first edition of the novel (one of twelve "presentation" copies issued by the publisher), in three volumes, which is kept at the Royal Library at Windsor Castle. For more on the presentation edition, see this description of Anne Sharp's copy (Bonhams auction site). Novelist Maria Edgeworth - a favorite of Austen's - also apparently received a presentation copy of the novel.
First published in the year 1816 (late 1815, though the frontispiece is dated 1816) by John Murray, Emma was the last work Austen lived to see released. The first edition consisted of 2000 copies. Oddly, the book did not sell well, so the second printing/edition didn't happen until 1833. For more information on the initial publication of the novel, look here.
About Jane Austen's Emma, the Novel...
- Read Jane Austen's Emma:
- Letters pertaining to the printing and dedication of Emma, the novel
Period opinions of Emma
Why we love Emma - our modern opinions
When writers and editors are "clueless" about Emma...
Quotations about the novel and its characters (CUNY Course)
- Vic writes about marriage and social standing in Emma: In Jane Austen's Words: Highbury Society and Emma Woodhouse's Place In It
- Wordplay in Emma: Austen Only Emma Season: Blunder and Dixon Concealing a Deeper Game
- A list of characters in Emma...
The main characters and pertinent descriptive quotations:
- Emma Woodhouse
- Mr. Knightley
- John Knightley
- Frank Churchill
- Jane Fairfax
- Mr. & Mrs. Weston
- Miss Bates COMING SOON
- Harriet Smith
- Mr. Woodhouse COMING SOON
- Deborah Jane's hilarious and informative Mr. Woodhouse Defense League
- Mr. & Mrs. Elton COMING SOON
- How Jane Austen's Characters Talk - Should we reevaluate our perceptions of Emma Woodhouse? Check out Dr. E. Johnson's research (via the WayBack Machine)...
Chronology and settings in Emma
Notes and quotes regarding food in the novel
Notes on literary allusions and such in Emma
Charles Edmund Brock and Hugh Thomson Illustrations for various Emma editions are available in our Image Gallery!
More Emma illustrations at solitary-elegance.com
For those studying the novel (Use at your own risk!):
- Bibliography of works on Emma and the film adaptations
- Winter, 2007 issue of Persuasions Online. Emma is the featured theme
- Bibliomania study questions
- A Discussion of Emma
- The Emma section from Henry Churchyard's invaluable Jane Austen Information Page, including text, selected scenes, and background
- Re-reading Box Hill - A group of academic essays
- On liking Emma
Test your knowledge of (and gauge the health of your proximity to) the novel with this Emma quiz
Jane Austen's Emma - Sequels, Retellings, & Allusions
- Joan Aiken's Jane Fairfax - 1990. Apparently, there is another allusion by the same name by Naomi Royde Smith (1940).
- Juliet Archer's The Importance of Being Emma is a contemporary retelling of the story. Published 2008 by Choc Lit.
- Joan Austen-Leigh's Two-Volume allusion, A Visit to Highbury: Another View of Emma - 1993/1995 and Later Days at Highbury: A Novel - 1996. The former was first published as Mrs. Goddard, Mistress of a School in 1993 by A Room of One's Own Press.
- Rachel Billington's Perfect Happiness - 1996
- Review of the novel
- See Billington's article on the recent Austen sequels, including her own
- See also this article on the Billington-Tennant sequel war of '96
- Buy Perfect Happiness
- Buy Emma & Knightley, which appears to be the same book with a different title
- Carrie Bebris' The Intrigue at Highbury: Or, Emma's Match - 2010. Part of the "Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries" series. Hardcover, 320 pages. Published by Tor/Forge Books. ISBN: 978-0765318480.
- Grania Beckford's Virtues and Vices is supposedly a sequel or allusion to Emma. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1981.
- Diana Birchall's In Defense of Mrs. Elton and The Courtship of Mrs. Elton, presented together in Mrs. Elton in America: The Compleat Mrs. Elton - 2004 (although In Defense was first published in 1999, I think).
- Christine Brooke-Rose's Textermination is supposedly a sequel or allusion to Emma. Manchester: Carcanet, 1991.
- Adam Campan's experimental James Fairfax - 2009. Softcover, 504 pages.
- Barbara Cornthwaite's George Knightley, Esquire: Charity Envieth Not (Volume 1) - 2009. Paperback, 258 pages. Published by CreateSpace. ISBN: 1449587070.
- Joan Ellen Delman's Lovers' Perjuries - 2006. Paperback, 299 pages. Published by Domestic Virtues Press.
- Brenda Finn's Anna Weston: A Sequel to Jane Austen's Emma - 2000. Released in the UK. 256 Pages. Published by Hedera Books. ISBN: 0953755401.
- Jane Gillespie's Aunt Celia - 1991/2 - and Truth and Rumor - ?
- Amanda Grange's Mr. Knightley's Diary - 2007. Latest in her series of Austen hero diaries.
- Charlotte Grey's The Journal of Jane Fairfax - 1983. Published by Robert Hale LTD, London.
- Reginald Hill's Poor Emma, part of There are no Ghosts in the Soviet Union - 1988 - I heard it straight from the author's mouth that this sequel has Mr. Knightley as a fat old codger. And things apparently go downhill from there...
- Jenni James' Emmalee, a contemporary retelling for young adults. An installment of the Jane Austen Diaries series.
- Wayne Josephson's Emma and the Vampires - 2010. A Kindle-format mashup.
- Famed mystery writer Alexander McCall Smith is rewriting Emma for the HarperFiction Austen Project. His Emma will be available in Spring, 2014.
- Katharine Moore's Donwell Abbey - ?. Available online for free via Lulu.
- Adam Rann's Emma and the Werewolves - 2009. Published for Amazon's Kindle by Coscom Entertainment. Hard copy released 12/8/2009.
- Naomi Gwladys Royde Smith's Jane Fairfax - 1940. Published by Macmillan, London.
- G.B. Stern's Seven Years Later, included in More About Jane Austen - 1949. A hardcover book of Austen essays and sequelizations edited by Sheila Kaye-Smith (?).
- Emma Tennant's Emma in Love - 1996
- Debra White Smith's Amanda - 2006
- More Emma sequel resources:
Emma Fan Fiction
- Emma Deja Vu. Emma and Mr. Knightley go at it again.
- Knightley's Story. The real reason behind Mr. Knightley's trip to London.
- Mr. Knightley's Side of the Story. Another version of the same.
- What Were They Thinking? The secret engagement between Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill from their perspectives. This one's mine.
- Le Long Retour Vers Donwell. In French and English translation. Mr. Knightley contemplates Emma and Frank.
Other Emma Versions or Allusions
- Fox, a strange convergence of Emma and The X-Files
- A paper Emma
- Emma - A Marvel comic series by Nancy Butler