George Gissing

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Gissing, George

(gĭs`ĭng), 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).

Gissing, George


Born Nov. 22, 1857, in Wakefield; died Dec. 28, 1903, in St.-Jean-de-Luz, France. English writer.

Gissing described his life in the East End slums in the novels Workers in the Dawn (1880), The Déclassé (1884), Thyrza (vols. 1-3, 1887; Russian translation, 1893), and The Nether World (vols. 1-3, 1889). His best-known novel, Demos: A Story of English Socialism (1886), is distinguished by its antidemocratic tendency. The tragic position of the writer in bourgeois society is depicted in the novel New Grub Street (vols. 1-3, 1891; translated into Russian as Martyrs of the Pen, 1891). Gissing was influenced by Charles Dickens as well as by French naturalistic novels.


Selections. [Edited by V. Woolf and A. Gissing.] London, 1929.
Letters to the Members of His Family. London, 1927.
In Russian translation:
Demos. Vestnik Evropy, 1891, nos. 1-5.


Zinner, E. P. “Tvorchestvo Dzh. Gissinga.” Uch. zap, Leningradskogo ped. in-ta im. A. I. Gertsena: Kafedra vseobshchei literaturi, 1938, vol. 15.
Istoriia angliiskoi literatury, vol. 3. Moscow, 1958.
Donnelly, M. C. George Gissing: Grave Comedian. Cambridge (Mass.) and London, 1954.
Collected Articles on George Gissing. London, 1968.


References in periodicals archive ?
The book closes with a brief conclusion that offers glimpses of the works of writers including George Gissing, George Moore, and George Meredith, who were also drawing on the world of art to offer their audiences "new forms of reading" (163).
Novelists George Gissing, George McDonald, George Meredith, and Charlotte Yonge lived into the early years of the twentieth century, and are thus included in the twentieth-century volume, despite the fact that most of their work was written and published in the nineteenth century.