Emma Woodhouse was pretty, clever and rich. She and her father lived in a large, beautiful house in Highbury, near London. The house was called Hartfield House. Emma was the younger daughter of Mr Woodhouse.
Emma had an elder sister, whose name was Isabella. Isabella was married. She did not live at Hartfield House. She and her husband, John, and their five small children lived in London.
Emma's mother had died when Emma was very young.
Mr Woodhouse was quite an old man. He loved Emma more than anyone in the whole world. He did not think Emma could do anything wrong.
A woman named Miss Taylor worked for Mr Woodhouse. She looked after Emma. She was Emma's teacher and her closest friend.
Miss Taylor fell in love with a man called Mr Weston. They were friends for many years. Then they decided to marry.
At last the day of Miss Taylor's wedding came. Miss Taylor left Hartfield House. She went to live in Mr Weston's house, called Randalls.
Emma and old Mr Woodhouse were left alone. No-one else lived with them in their beautiful home.
Emma was a very clever girl. Secretly, she was quite proud of herself. She thought she was cleverer than most people.
Emma believed she could change people's lives. She believed she could change people's feelings and make them like each other. She enjoyed looking for good husbands for her women friends. She also thought she could find good wives for her men friends. Emma was a matchmaker.
Emma was very pleased with herself when Miss Taylor married Mr Weston. She thought she had made these two people fall in love. She thought she had found a very good husband for her best friend.
Jane Austen lived quietly in the English countryside about two hundred years ago, and wrote stories that looked very closely at the lives and loves of people of her time. Emma Woodhouse was her own favourite heroine, and the story has been popular all over the world for many years.
Jane Austen: Emma. Oxford Progressive English Readers; Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1992
Grade 1 (1,400 headwords)