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Gissing, George (Robert)

women literary book living

(British, 1857–1903)

George Gissing was born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, and educated at Owen's College, Manchester. He was imprisoned for stealing money to assist a prostitute whom he later married. Then he travelled to America, living in extreme poverty. His early novels, such as Workers in the Dawn (1880), reflect his experience of living on the breadline. New Grub Street (1891) exposes the creeping materialism in the late-Victorian literary world, through a series of characters with differing literary aspirations. The Odd Women (1893) is a remarkable book for its time, concerned as it is with the plight of single women in society. Three sisters are left penniless by their father's death; the difficulty of remaining respectable, if one does not marry, are vividly evoked. Rhoda Nunn, the book's feminist heroine, starts a typing school so that single women can earn their own keep.

Robert Tressell, Upton Sinclair, George Orwell  SA

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