Jane Austen's Emma (1816) tells the story of the coming of age of Emma Woodhouse, "handsome, clever, and rich," who "had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her." Typical for the novel's time, Emma's transition to womanhood is accomplished through courtship—both of those around her and, ultimately, her own. As in other Austen works, education and courtship go hand in hand, and Emma's process of learning to relinquish the power of having her own way is also a process of falling in love. However, in Emma this classic plot is both complicated by and reflective of a collection of contemporary issues, assumptions, and anxieties that highlight just how "political" even the most conventional of courtship plots can be.
This Broadview edition includes a critical introduction and an extensive collection of historical documents relating to the composition and reception of the novel, the social implications of England's shift from a rural agrarian to an urban industrial economy, the role of women in provincial society, and the contemporary preoccupation with health and the treatment of illness.
"This is an excellent package of well-edited text and thoughtful introduction, notes and sources. A handsome, clever and rich edition that sets Emma firmly in its social contexts and is ideal for introducing the historical aspects of Austen's classic courtship narrative."
Devoney Looser University of Missouri
"With its wide-ranging introduction and informative appendices documenting issues of social class, gypsies and illegitimacy, women's roles, illness, and Jane Austen as an author, Kristin Flieger Samuelian's edition will be highly valued by those who read Emma with an eye to social history. Broadview Austen editions are second to none."
Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.68 (d)
Meet the Author
Kristin Flieger Samuelian teaches in the Department of English at George Mason University. She has published articles on Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Elizabeth Gaskell.
In 1801, George Austen retired from the clergy, and Jane, Cassandra, and their parents took up residence in Bath, a fashionable town Jane liked far less than her native village. Jane seems to have written little during this period. When Mr. Austen died in 1805, the three women, Mrs. Austen and her daughters, moved first to Southampton and then, partly subsidized by Jane's brothers, occupied a house in Chawton, a village not unlike Jane's first home. There she began to work on writing and pursued publishing once more, leading to the anonymous publication of Sense and Sensibility in 1811 and Pride and Prejudice in 1813, to modestly good reviews.
Known for her cheerful, modest, and witty character, Jane Austen had a busy family and social life, but as far as we know very little direct romantic experience. There were early flirtations, a quickly retracted agreement to marry the wealthy brother of a friend, and a rumored short-lived attachment -- while she was traveling -- that has not been verified. Her last years were quiet and devoted to family, friends, and writing her final novels. In 1817 she had to interrupt work on her last and unfinished novel, Sanditon, because she fell ill. She died on July 18, 1817, in Winchester, where she had been taken for medical treatment. After her death, her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published, together with a biographical notice, due to the efforts of her brother Henry. Austen is buried in Winchester Cathedral.
Author biography courtesy of Barnes & Noble Books.
Jane Austen: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text
Appendix A: The Composition and Reception of the Novel
1. Austen's Correspondence with John Murray and James Stanier Clarke
2. Austen's "Plan of a Novel, According to Hints from Various Quarters"
3. Review of Emma by Sir Walter Scott, The Quarterly Review (1815-1816)
4. Critical Notices of Emma (The British Critic, 1816; The Gentleman's Magazine, 1816)
Appendix B: Social Class and Landed Society
1. [Figure] Offchurchbury, Warwickshire, seat of the Knightley family, c. 1818
2. From Jane Austen, "The History of England"
3. From Edmund Burke, On Taste (1756)
4. From Samuel Richardson, The History of Sir Charles Grandison (1754)
Appendix C: The Landless: Gypsies and Bastards
1. From William Cowper, The Task (1785)
2. From "Notices Concerning the Scottish Gypsies," Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine (April 1817)
3. From William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765)
Appendix D: Women, Married and Unmarried
1. From William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765)
2. From Hannah More, Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education (1799)
3. From the Journals and Letters of Agnes Porter (1791-1811)
Appendix E: The Social Meaning of Illness
1. From Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776)
2. From The Gentleman's Magazine (December 1815)
3. From Thomas Trotter, A View of the Nervous Temperament (1807)
Appendix F: The Sale of Human Intellect
1. From The Times (4 January 1815)