Gissing, George gĭs´ĭng [key]
, 1857–1903, English novelist. His promising future as a scholar was curtailed by his expulsion from Owens College (later the Univ. of Manchester) because of his association with a young prostitute whom he later married. Years of poverty and hard work followed. He visited America in 1876–77 and wrote several short stories for the Chicago Tribune.
Gissing was the foremost English exponent of naturalism often focusing on social issues—poverty, the exploitation of women, the effects of industrialization. His personal bitterness at his years of unhappiness often surfaces in his novels. New Grub Street
(1891), his best-known work, depicts the dilemma of the poverty-stricken artist in an alien world. Other works include Thyrza
(1887), The Nether World
(1889), Born in Exile
(1892), and The Whirlpool
(1897). In By the Ionian Sea
(1901) and in the somewhat autobiographic Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft
(1903), Gissing reveals his love of books and the past. His excellent critical study (1898) of Charles Dickens, whose works greatly influenced him, is still read.
See his letters ed. by P. F. Mattheisen et al. (9 vol., 1990–97); his diary ed. by P. Coustillas (1978); biography by P. Coustillas (3 vol., 2011–12); studies by F. Swinnerton (3d ed. 1966), and P. Coustillas and C. Partridge, ed. (1972); G. Tindall (1974); bibliography by P. Coustillas (2005).
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