The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIII. The Victorian Age, Part One.

XIV. George Meredith, Samuel Butler, George Gissing

§ 13. Gissing

George Robert Gissing was born at Wakefield on 22 November, 1857; at school, and at Owens college, Manchester, he worked with a furious energy, and seemed destined for a notable career in the academic world. His course was, however, cut short through an ill-starred marriage in 1875; he fled first to London, where he experienced the poverty and wretchedness described in many of his novels; and, afterwards, in 1876, to America, making use of that adventure in the narrative of Whelpdale in New Grub Street. After a brief stay in Germany, he returned to London, publishing his first novel Workers in the Dawn, at his own expense, in 1880. He made a precarious livelihood by private tuition, going without sufficient food, but steadfastly declining to take up journalism, which offered possible openings. The evidence is a little contradictory; but it seems that by the year 1882 Gissing had emerged from the bitterest of the miseries due to poverty. In 1884 appeared The Unclassed, in 1886 Isabel Clarendon and Demos, and, from that year until 1895, he published one or more books annually; in 1887 Thyrza; in 1888 A Life’s Morning; in 1889 The Nether World; in 1890, in which year he entered upon a second unfortunate matrimonial venture, The Emancipated; in 1891 New Grub Street; in 1892 Born in Exile and the short Denzil Quarrier; in 1893 The Odd Women; in 1894 In the Year of Jubilee; and, in 1895, four books, Eve’s Ransom, Sleeping Fires, The Paying Guest and The Whirlpool. Human Odds and Ends, a collection of short sketches, came out in 1898 and in the same year Charles Dickens: A Critical Study. Later writings connected with Dickens were the introductions to the (incomplete) Rochester edition beginning in 1900; Dickens in Memory (1902); the abridgment of Forster’s Life of Dickens in the same year; and a chapter in Homes and Haunts of Famous Authors, published in 1906 after his death. Meanwhile, he had written The Town Traveller in 1898, The Crown of Life in 1899 and Our Friend the Charlatan in 1901. The two books that followed were of the essay kind, By the Ionian Sea (1901) and The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft in 1903. After his death were published the unfinished Veranilda in 1904, Will Warburton in 1905 and a second volume of short stories, The House of Cobwebs, in 1906. Gissing died at the age of forty-six at St. Jean de Luz on 28 December, 1903.