Generations of readers and movie viewers have been drawn to the spirited heroines of Sense and Sensibility and Emma. Prepared especially for students, this full-length critical study of Jane Austen covers her six most beloved works, including the two novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, published posthumously. Young readers will enjoy the vivid biographical account of how Austen herself was just a teenager when she took up the pen and began to write in guarded secrecy. Austen scholar Debra Teachman has a historian's eye for detail as she describes Austen's homelife in the English countryside and the social environment that were so much a part of Austen's stories. Teachman examines each novel, relating how historical context influenced the characters, events and themes that Austen developed. Teachman eloquently points out, for example, that while Austen does not overtly preach feminism in any of her novels, the lack of legal protection for women is a vital societal theme in Sense and Sensibility. Her discussion of the economic realities at the core of Austen's novels will help readers appreciate that works like the best-selling Pride and Prejudice are more than just charming stories. In addition to analyzing the literary elements in each work of fiction by Jane Austen, this Companion also gives students an overview of Austen's literary heritage. Discussing first the novel itself as a genre, this useful chapter then identifies each sub-genre that influenced Austen: epistolary writing, the adventure novel, the gothic form, and Women's Rights novels. An extensive bibliography directs readers to biographical materials, historical documents, reviews, criticism and numerous other accessiblesources that will enhance their further study of Austen's writings. For students of classic fiction, this well written critical study aids in the enjoyment and understanding of the life and works of Jane Austen.