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The Heroic Life of George Gissing: 1897-1903
George Gissing (1857-1903) lived a life worthy of the plot from one of his own novels. An exceptionally gifted man, born into relatively genteel comfort, he nonetheless managed to enter into two disastrous marriages with working-class women, got thrown out of university for stealing, spent a month doing hard labour in prison and died before the age of...
George Gissing (1857-1903) lived a life worthy of the plot from one of his own novels. An exceptionally gifted man, born into relatively genteel comfort, he nonetheless managed to enter into two disastrous marriages with working-class women, got thrown out of university for stealing, spent a month doing hard labour in prison and died before the age of fifty. It is all the more surprising then, that he still managed to write twenty-three novels and over a hundred short stories, as well as works of literary criticism and a travelogue. This ambitious three-volume biography examines both his life and writing chronologically and in close detail. Coustillas's exhaustive research is based on all the known surviving Gissing correspondence, Gissing's works and every piece of literary criticism on Gissing from 1880 onwards. Press archives from England, America, the former Colonies, France and Germany have all been consulted. This approach, by the foremost authority on Gissing, allows new insights into his life and work. This final volume in Coustillas's prodigious biography examines the turbulent last years of the author's life and his literary afterlife. After the break-up of his second marriage, Gissing's health began to decline and he was diagnosed with emphysema, precipitating his permanent move abroad. In contrast to his personal problems, his literary reputation soared and he formed new friendships with other writers of the day, including Henry James and H G Wells. He wrote Charles Dickens: A Critical Study (1898), travelled to Rome in the same year and produced By the Ionian Sea (1901) about his 'rambles' in Calabria. The last of Gissing's books to be published in his lifetime was The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft (1903). The most autobiographical of his works, it was also his favourite, and the most widely-read in the years after his death. He died in France on 28th December 1903.
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