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Introduction. 'Harriet Smith has no family and no money

'Harriet Smith has no family and no money. Robert Martin was a good match for her, Emma. Until she met you, she thought of nothing better for herself, but you have filled her head with ideas of high society and of how beautiful she is.'

Emma Woodhouse is beautiful, clever and rich. She has never thought of getting married herself. Instead, she amuses herself by trying to arrange marriages between her friends and neighbours. But Emma makes a lot of mistakes and causes more problems than happy marriages. Because she is so busy trying to arrange other people's lives, will she lose her own chance of happiness?

Jane Austen was born in 1775, the daughter of a vicar. She had six brothers and one sister, Cassandra, who was her greatest friend. Her home was in Hampshire in the south of England and she lived there for most of her life.

She began writing short stories when she was sixteen but she did not write her first book, Sense and Sensibility, until 1811. There were five more books. Emma came out in 1816 and many people think it her best work. Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice (1813) and Persuasion (1817) are three of her books on the list of Penguin Readers. Her books have always been popular and recently many people have been introduced to her stories for the first time through films for the cinema and television.

Although she wrote a lot about falling in love, Jane Austen never married. She died in Cassandra's arms in 1817, when she was forty-one years old.


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