About me

Sarah Emsley

Photo by Shannon George

Welcome, and thanks very much for visiting! I’m a writer and editor with a particular interest in the lives and works of Jane Austen and Edith Wharton. I hope you’ll join the conversation here about these two brilliant writers and the ongoing popularity of the fictional worlds they created. From time to time I also post about the books I review, about other writers I admire, such as L.M. Montgomery, and about places I love (especially Nova Scotia and Alberta).

Right now, I’m in the process of rereading Montgomery’s “Emily” novels: Emily of New MoonEmily Climbs, and Emily’s Quest. 

I invite you to follow my blog or subscribe via email, follow me on Twitter, and connect with me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Celebrating Austen and Wharton

Last year, I hosted a series of guest posts called Emma in the Snow,” which ran from December 23, 2015 (the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Emma) to the last day of winter in March 2016.

2014 was The Year of Mansfield Park three cheers for Austen’s strongest heroine, Fanny Price! I put together a series of thirty-nine guest blog posts to mark 200 years of this complex and controversial novel, and it was a real pleasure to bring together so many of Austen’s readers at this Mansfield Park party. Read more about “An Invitation to Mansfield Park” here. Contributors to the series included writers of Austen-inspired fiction, bloggers, booksellers, doctors, journalists, librarians, and academics.

The Custom of the Country

2013 was also an exciting year in the world of Austen and Wharton, as it marked the 200th anniversary of the publication of Austen’s famous and beloved novel Pride and Prejudice, and the 100th anniversary of the publication of Wharton’s novel The Custom of the Country, which her biographer Hermione Lee calls “her greatest book.”

Here’s my series of posts about the experience of rereading Pride and Prejudice, and here’s my series of posts celebrating 100 years of The Custom of the Country.

If you’re interested in writing a guest post for my blog, click here to read more about submissions.

Writing and Speaking

My recent publications include an essay in Persuasions On-Line called “Among the Proto-Janeites: Reading Mansfield Park for Consolation in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1815″ and a chapter in the new Modern Language Association volume Approaches to Teaching Austen’s Mansfield Park, edited by Marcia McClintock Folsom and John Wiltshire. Read more about that chapter, “The Tragic Action of Mansfield Park,” here.

Jane Austen's Philosophy of the VirtuesMy books include literary criticism (Jane Austen’s Philosophy of the Virtues and Jane Austen and the North Atlantic), Nova Scotia history (St. Paul’s in the Grand Parade), and a critical edition of Edith Wharton’s 1913 novel The Custom of the Country. You can find details about my essays and reviews on Austen, Wharton, and contemporary Canadian fiction here. The archives for The New Compass, the journal I co-founded and co-edited with Michael John DiSanto, are available here.

Click here for more information about upcoming events or if you’re interested in inviting me to speak to your group about Jane Austen and/or Edith Wharton.

Favourite Posts

Oxford World's Classics P&P

Jane Austen’s “Darling Child” Meets the World

Why is Mr. Darcy So Attractive?

Mansfield Park is a Tragedy, Not a Comedy

Books as Children

What Edith Wharton Tells Us About the Way We Live Now

L.M. Montgomery’s Literary Pilgrimage to Concord, Mass.

I’ve written several posts about L.M. Montgomery in Nova Scotia, and I often write about Jane Austen for Kids.


Many years ago, when so many Maritimers were going west for work, my family left Alberta for (academic) work in Nova Scotia. I grew up in Halifax, and while I’ve moved away a few times and I still feel a strong attachment to Alberta, I keep coming home to Nova Scotia.

After an undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta, I came home for graduate school, and received an MA and a PhD in English Literature from Dalhousie University in Halifax. My PhD supervisor was Rohan Maitzen, who blogs at Novel Readings. I held a SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship at the Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford, where I worked on Edith Wharton and the novel of manners with Hermione Lee as my advisor. For a few years I taught classes on Jane Austen in the Writing Program at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and then I came home to Halifax to write full time.

I’m a member of The Writers’ Union of Canada, the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS), the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA), and the Jane Austen Society of the UK. In 2013-14 I served as WFNS Vice President. I’m currently volunteering with Project Bookmark Canada and I’m excited about the first Bookmark project in Nova Scotia: a plaque honouring Alistair MacLeod’s novel No Great Mischief was unveiled in Cape Breton on October 1, 2015. I wrote about the project here: “Let’s Bookmark Nova Scotia’s Literary Landmarks.”

Blue Beach, Nova Scotia

Blue Beach, Nova Scotia

When I’m not reading, writing, working on editing projects, or volunteering, I’m usually running, meeting friends for coffee, or spending time with my family. Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island beaches and bookstores, the new Halifax Central Library, Alberta grain elevators, Boston and Cambridge bookstores and the Museum of Fine Arts: these are a few of my favourite things.

Jane Austen in Nova Scotia (JASNA NS)

I’m always interested in hearing from fans of Austen’s work. If you’re in or near the Halifax area and you’re interested in Jane Austen, please consider coming to one of our JASNA Nova Scotia meetings. Upcoming events are listed on the group’s website, Jane Austen in Nova Scotia.

You can reach me by email at semsley at gmail dot com.

© Sarah Emsley, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of material from this website without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sarah Emsley with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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