[The author has shared this information from his site, which readers might wish to consult for more information about Gissing and about the author's recent book about the novelist.]

1857    Born November 22 in Wakefield, Yorkshire, England, son of a chemist. Christened George Robert Gissing.

1870    Father, Thomas Waller Gissing, died suddenly in December, leaving behind a young wife, three sons, and two daughters.

1871    With his two brothers, William and Algernon, entered a Quaker boarding school, Lindow Grove, at Alderley Edge, Cheshire.

1872    In October matriculated at Owens College, Manchester on a scholarship that provided free tuition for three years. Continued to live at Lindow Grove until he went off to college.

1875    Moved to private lodgings in Manchester, winning honors in English and Latin and distinguishing himself as a gifted student.

1876    Met Marianne Helen Harrison (Nell), a young prostitute he attempted to rescue and reform. Her picture shown to Morley Roberts. On May 31 arrested for stealing planted and marked money in college cloakroom. On June 6 convicted and sentenced to a month in prison at hard labor. On June 7 expelled from Owens College. In August sailed for United States to start a new life. Hoped to send for Nell when settled. In America wrote sentimental poems idealizing Nell.

1877    Taught briefly in a public school at Waltham, Massachusetts. Went by train to Chicago and published first fiction, "The Sins of the Fathers," in Chicago Tribune on March 10. Published several stories before leaving Chicago in July to return to New York and New England. Sailed from Boston in September, arrived in Liverpool October 3, found himself living in London lodgings by end of October.

1878    Lived at 22 Colville Place, London, between January and September. Continued to use American notebook for plot outlines. On birthday, November 22, received his share of a trust fund (about 500) left by his father. Begins to advise two sisters on their reading and education.

1879    In January met Eduard Bertz, a German intellectual who returned to Germany but who became an enduring friend to whom he wrote many letters. Married Marianne Helen Harrison on October 27. Earned a spare living as a tutor and worked on first proletarian novel.

1880    In March first book, Workers in the Dawn, published at his own expense. Friendship with Frederic Harrison. Brother Willian died of tuberculosis April 16.

1881    In February moved to Worthington Road, earned 45 shillings a week tutoring children of wealthy families. In August moved to 15 Gower Place. Lived in rented lodgings with Nell who was often ill. Worked on his second novel which he hoped a publisher would accept.

1882    Tutored ten pupils from 9 to 6 and wrote in the evenings. Mrs. Grundy's Enemies completed in September and accepted for publication but never published. Nell, alcoholic and sick, sent to an invalids' home in Battersea. Returned to Gissing in October, soon left. Gissing moved to 17 Oakley Crescent, Chelsea, where he lived two years.

1883    Nell back on the streets as a prostitute, involved in a street disturbance in September. Gissing lived alone, worked on next novel, tried and failed to get a divorce, never saw Nell again until after she was dead.

1884    Moved to a single room at 62 Milton Street near Regents Park. Bertz left London in April. The Unclassed, his second novel, published in June. In summer met Mrs. Gaussen, visited her home in September, began to tutor her son at better quarters, 7K Cornwall Residences.

1885    In the spring spent a week with the Gaussens along with sister Ellen. Worked on next novel, begun in 1884 and influenced throughout by Mrs. Gaussen. Also completed A Life's Morning in this year, both a departure in subject matter from earlier novels.

1886    Isabel Clarendon published in February. Demos, a return to his special line of work, published a month later and reviewed favorably.

1887    Thyrza published in April. Colorful scenes of lower-class life dominated by girls and women. Main character, a working girl, idealized.

1888    A Life's Morning, written before Demos, published in February. Nell died February 29. Gissing viewed her body on March 1. Began work on The Nether World and completed novel in four months. On way to Italy stopped briefly in Paris, attended a speech by a leading feminist. In Italy five months. Loved the country, climate, people.

1889    The Nether World published in March. Completed Italian trip. Began trip to Greece and Italy. Met Edith Sichel in September.

1890    The Emancipated published in March. In April visited Paris with his sisters. On September 24 met Edith Underwood in London. Made rapid progress on his next novel after he met her and completed it in December.

1891    Married Edith on February 25 and moved from London to Exeter in the county of Devon, noted for its scenery. Son, Walter Leonard, born December 10. Edith suffered from neuralgia, showed first signs of sour temper. New Grub Street, his best-known novel, published in April.

1892    Two novels published in this year, Denzil Quarrier in February, Born in Exile in April. Living in pleasant surroundings away from London and better off financially, but a year of "domestic misery and discomfort."

1893    The Odd Women published in April and well reviewed. In September received newspaper publicity when he accused a parson of stealing a long passage from The Nether World and publishing it as his own. The parson blamed the printer. Met Clara Collet in July, visiting her in Richmond.

1894    In the Year of Jubilee published in October. Finished Eve's Ransom in June and moved to Somerset. Complained of isolation and uncertain health and low income in spite of never-ending work.

1895    Three short novels published in this year. Eve's Ransom ran serially in Illustrated London News, out in book form later in year. The Paying Guest and Sleeping Fires published near end of year. Domestic turmoil increased.

1896    Second son, Alfred Charles, born January 20. By the end of year, as he finished his latest novel, Gissing's troubles with Edith had convinced him he would have to abandon his family. Worried about welfare of sons.

1897    In February driven from home. Published The Whirlpool in spring. Returned to Edith in June and moved in July to Yorkshire. In September he fled from Edith and domestic conflict again, making the separation final. Italian trip of six months later provided materials for By the Ionian Sea.

1898    Returned to England April 18. Met Gabrielle Marie Edith Fleury on July 6 at home of H. G. Wells. Saw wife Edith and son Alfred for last time on September 7. Published Human Odds and Ends, a collection of short stories, The Town Traveler, and Charles Dickens, A Critical Study. Influenced by Gabrielle, began work on The Crown of Life, the book he thought would be his best novel.

1899    Began to live with Gabrielle Fleury in France after a mock marriage ceremony on May 7. Finished By the Ionian Sea and Among the Prophets, later destroyed. Published The Crown of Life in October.

1900    In April visited his family in Wakefield. Worked through the summer on The Coming Man, published in 1901 as Our Friend the Charlatan. In autumn worked on The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft, written in less than two months.

1901    With Gabrielle visited Wells in May. In June went alone to Dr. Jane Walker's sanatorium in Suffolk, stayed there a month. In August joined Gabrielle in Autun, living there until October 12. Then moved southward to Arachon. Published Our Friend the Charlatan and By the Ionian Sea.

1902    In February Edith Underwood Gissing committed to insane asylum. With Gabrielle Fleury and her mother, he moved to St. Jean de Luz in June to take advantage of the climate. Worked sporadically on historical novel and other projects in spite of steadily declining health.

1903    Published The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft. Completed Will Warburton in March. During summer and fall worked on historical novel, Veranilda. Fell ill with five chapters yet to be written and was not able to finish it. Moved to Ispoure in St. Jean Pied de Port and died there of double pneumonia at forty-six on December 28. Buried at St. Jean de Luz.

1904    Unfinished historical novel Veranilda published.

1905    Will Warburton published.

1906    The House of Cobwebs, a collection of short stories, published.

1917    On February 27 Edith Underwood Gissing, his second legitimate wife, died at forty-five in asylum of "organic brain disease."

1954    In April Gabrielle Fleury Gissing (his third wife in name only) was injured in a street accident in Paris and died several months later.


Victorian Overview George Gissing

Last modified 26 November 2004