Jane Austen began writing Emma in 1814 and the novel was published in 1816. The book can be classed as a bildungsroman: a novel about the education and development of its main character. Emma Woodhouse is a privileged young heiress who becomes lonely after her governess marries. Though she is devoted to her father, a querulous, demanding hypochondriac, life in their small village is often tedious. She takes up matchmaking as a diversion, deciding to unite her orphan protégé, Harriet Smith, with a clergyman, Mr Elton - much to the disapproval of her neighbour Mr Knightley. Gradually Emma perceives that her manipulative, meddling actions are ill-conceived. Though this progression to maturity and self-awareness is painful for Emma herself, Austen’s skilful plotting and sharp wit make it a delight for the reader.