Emma is a comic novel, first published in 1816, 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."
Emma Woodhouse is a young woman in Regency England. She lives in the village of Highbury with her father, a hypochondriac who is principally characterized by excessive concern for the health and safety of his loved ones. Emma's friend and only critic is the gentlemanly Mr. Knightley, her "neighbour" and brother of her sister's husband. As the novel opens, Emma has just attended the marriage of Miss Taylor, her old governess and best friend. Having introduced Miss Taylor to her future husband, Mr Weston, Emma smugly takes credit for their marriage, and decides that she rather likes matchmaking.