Jane Austen is unique among British novelists in maintaining her popular appeal while receiving more scholarly attention now than ever before. This innovative introduction by a leading scholar and editor of her work explains what students need to know about her novels, life, context and reception. Each novel is discussed in detail, and all the essential information about her life and literary influences, her novels and letters, and her impact on later literature and culture is covered. While the book considers the key areas of current critical focus its analysis remains thoroughly grounded in readings of the texts themselves. Janet Todd outlines what makes Austen's prose style so innovative and gives useful starting points for the study of the major works, with suggestions for further reading. This book is an essential purchase for all students of Austen, as well as for readers wanting to deepen their appreciation of the novels.