Emma and Fanny: What’s Not to Like?

Emma Woodhouse and Fanny Price have received mixed reviews from Jane Austen’s fans and critics. Jane Austen’s mother thought Fanny “insipid” and family lore is that Austen said of Emma: “I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like”. Both heroines have qualities that modern readers can find off-putting. Our group discussion will explore opinions of Fanny and Emma, especially in connection to women’s social roles. Compared to the almost universal acclaim for Elizabeth Bennet, Emma and Fanny seem to be more of an acquired taste. Let’s see what challenges Austen was setting for readers (and herself) in creating Emma and Fanny.

Opinions of these characters can be strong and we ask all attendees to be respectful of other people’s opinions. We want a friendly “Anne Elliot and Captain Harville”-style discussion! The meeting is free and open to all. Hope you can join us. If you have any questions, send us an email at

We have two optional but highly recommended readings available for download below: Elaine Bander (2016) “‘Liking’ Emma Woodhouse” (Persuasions, 38, 13-29) and Linda Troost and Sayre Greenfield (2014) “A History of the Fanny Wars” (Persuasions, 36, 15-33). These articles summarize some of the controversies about and challenges with “liking” Emma and Fanny. You do not need to read the articles to participate in the discussion. Thanks to Professors Bander, Troost, and Greenfield for their enthusiastic permission to share their works. We also have discussion questions below for download.

Register for the Virtual Meeting: Sunday, April 30, 2023, 2:30-4:00 p.m. Pacific Time

You will receive a confirmation email within a day or two of your registration and then the Zoom link will be emailed on Saturday, April 29.

Registration Form for Virtual Meeting:

Elaine Bander “‘Liking’ Emma Woodhouse

Linda Troost and Sayre Greenfield “A History of the Fanny Wars”

Discussion Questions