Books

The Whirlpool

George Gissing

'Marriage rarely means happiness, either for man or woman; if it be not too grievous to be borne, one must thank the fates and take courage'.

The greatest of English realist novelists, famous for New Grub Street, George Gissing creates in The Whirlpool an astonish picture of characters caught in the vortex of London, struggling to understand how they can make sense of their lives in a society of remorseless faithlessness and social snobbery.
A whole era is magnificently brought to life in all its glamour and squalor - and at the book's heart lies one of the most remarkable figures in English literature: Alma Rolfe, torn between an idyll of rural domesticity and her career in London as a musician.

New Grub Street

George Gissing (and others)

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY ANTHONY QUINN

Grub Street - where would-be writers aim high, publishers plumb the depths and literature is a trade, never a calling. In a literary world disfigured by greed and explotation, two very different writers rise and fall: Edward Reardon, a novelist whose high standards prevent him from pandering to the common taste, and Jasper Milvain, who possesses no such scruples. Gissing's dark and darkly funny novel presents a little-seen but richly absorbing slice of nineteeth-century society.

New Grub Street

George Gissing

'If only I had the skill, I would produce novels out-trashing the trashiest that ever sold fifty thousand copies'

In New Grub Street George Gissing re-created a microcosm of London's literary society as he had experienced it. His novel is at once a major social document and a story that draws us irresistibly into the twilit world of Edwin Reardon, a struggling novelist, and his friends and acquaintances in Grub Street including Jasper Milvain, an ambitious journalist, and Alfred Yule, an embittered critic. Here Gissing brings to life the bitter battles (fought out in obscure garrets or in the Reading Room of the British Museum) between integrity and the dictates of the market place, the miseries of genteel poverty and the damage that failure and hardship do to human personality and relationships.

The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.

The Odd Women

George Gissing (and others)

Virginia and Alice Madden are 'odd women', growing old alone in Victorian England with no prospect of finding love. Forced into poverty by the sudden death of their father, they lead lives of quiet desperation in a genteel boarding house in London. Meanwhile, their younger sister Monica, struggles to endure a loveless marriage she agreed to as her only escape from spinsterhood. But when the Maddens meet an old friend, Rhoda Nunn, they are soon made aware of the depth of their oppression. Astonishingly ahead of its time, The Odd Women is a pioneering work of early feminism. Gissing's depiction of the daring feminist Rhoda Nunn, it is an unflinching portrayal of one woman's struggle to reconcile her own desires with her deepest principles.

New Grub Street

George Gissing (and others)

In New Grub Street George Gissing re-created a microcosm of London's literary society as he had experienced it. His novel is at once a major social document and a story that draws us irresistibly into the twilit world of Edwin Reardon, a struggling novelist, and his friends and acquaintances in Grub Street including Jasper Milvain, an ambitious journalist, and Alfred Yule, an embittered critic. Here Gissing brings to life the bitter battles (fought out in obscure garrets or in the Reading Room of the British Museum) between integrity and the dictates of the market place, the miseries of genteel poverty and the damage that failure and hardship do to human personality and relationships.

Biography

George Robert Gissing was born on 22 November 1857 in Yorkshire. His father, a chemist, died when Gissing was twelve, leaving his family in relative poverty. However, Gissing won a scholarship to Owens College, Manchester and was destined for university, until he was caught stealing and sentenced to a month’s hard labour. He was stealing in order to support Nell Harrison, a prostitute with who he had fallen in love, and whom he married on his return from imprisonment and a short sojourn in America in 1877. He worked as a private tutor while writing his first novel, Workers in the Dawn, which was published in 1880 to little acclaim. Gissing’s marriage became increasingly unhappy and he separated from Nell in 1883 – she died several years later. Six more novels followed between 1884 and 1889, which were also largely overlooked, but allowed Gissing to fund a long-held ambition to visit Italy in 1889. In 1890 he married again, and in the following year published his most famous work, New Grub Street, and three more novels which won him moderate literary acclaim: The Odd Women, Born in Exile and In the Year of Jubilee. In 1897, already suffering from the emphysema that would eventually end his life, and separated from his second wife and children, Gissing met and fell in love with his French translator, Gabrielle Fleury. Unable to obtain a divorce, he moved to live with her in France. There he wrote several more novels, travel books and a life of Dickens. George Gissing died at St Jean-de-Luz in France on 28 December 1903, aged forty-six.