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Emma is a comic novel by Jane Austen, first published in December 1815, about the perils of misconstrued romance. The main character, Emma Woodhouse, is described in the opening paragraph as "handsome, clever, and rich" but is also rather spoiled. Prior to starting the novel, Austen wrote, "I am going to take a heroine whom no-one but myself will much like." Jane Austen (16 December 1775 - 18 July 1817) was an English novelist whose works include Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. Her biting social commentary and masterful use of both free indirect speech and irony eventually made Austen one of the most influential and honored novelists in English Literature.