‘I am going to take a heroine whom nobody but myself will much like,’ wrote Jane Austen when beginning Emma in January 1814. In this she was proved wrong. Pride and Prejudice may be her most famous novel, Persuasion her most deeply affecting, but for many, Emma is Austen’s best novel; the most perfectly balanced between comedy and insight, sparkle and depth. Witty, headstrong Emma Woodhouse, more interested in making matches for others than falling in love herself, is a wholly delightful heroine. The secondary characters – the impressionable Harriet, egotistical Mr Elton and Emma’s gentle, hypochondriac father – are just as unforgettable.