Mansfield Park is the third published novel by Jane Austen, first published in 1814. The novel tells the story of Fanny Price starting when her overburdened family sends her at age 10 to live in the household of her wealthy aunt and uncle, through to her marriage. The novel was first published by Thomas Egerton. A second edition was published in 1816 by John Murray, still within Austen's lifetime. The novel did not receive any critical attention when it was initially published; the first particular notice was in 1821, in a positive review of each of the published novels by Jane Austen. The critical reception from the late 20th century onward has been controversial. Paula Byrne, writing in the 21st century, found this to be one of Austen's best novels, and called it pioneering for being about meritocracy. However, Mansfield Park is perhaps Austen's most controversial novel due to its brief mention of the British slave trade, and the fact that Fanny's uncle and benefactor, Sir Thomas, owns a plantation in the West Indies. Some critics characterise Thomas's trip to Antigua as nothing more than an excuse for his long absence.
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