Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Gissing mss., 1863-1958, consist of correspondence, financial records, writings, photographs, and miscellaneous materials by and about writer George Robert Gissing, 1857- 1903. Throughout his life, Gissing worked, and to a modest degree succeeded, at making a living from his writing. This collection documents his own emphasis on writing as a business, and shows that following his death Gissing's family continued to regard his works in the same way.

Correspondence includes Gissing's earliest known letter, written to his father on July 21, 1863. It begins, "Mi der farter," and ends, "kind luv and kisis to yo mi der Further... Gog robut Gising." In addition to an extensive file of letters to his brother Algernon, there are also several letters from Gissing to his sister Ellen and a few letters to his son Walter. Gissing also wrote frequently to his two literary agents, William Morris Colles, 1855-1926, and later, James Brand Pinker, 1863-1922. Other correspondents in the collection include Arthur Henry Bullen, Edward Clodd, William Leonard Courtney, Alfred Charles Gissing, Frederic Harrison, Jerome Klapka Jerome, Otto Kyllman, William Maxse Meredith, Sir Algernon Methuen Marshall Methuen, and George Herbert Thring.

The later correspondence (1931-1958) provides information about the provenance of individual items in the collection and includes letters between collector Carl H. Pforzheimer and members of the Gissing family.

Gissing's financial records present include statements from Colles' agency, called the Authors' Syndicate, 1893- 1899; and Gissing's own literary accounts, 1899-1901.

Writings present include an autograph draft manuscript of An Author at Grass: The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft, the only known extant copy. Accompanying it is a 1903 edition of the book carrying penciled notations about variances with the manuscript. Other manuscripts in the collection include a few items of juvenalia, supporting the impression that Gissing chose early on to make writing his life's work. [See separate listing in Vertical File for Gissing's writings that are present in the collection.] In addition to the manuscripts by George Gissing there is also a short biographical piece written by Gissing's son, Alfred Charles Gissing (1891-1975), titled "Frederic Harrison and George Gissing."

The collection includes two photographs of George Gissing, one a formal studio portrait taken by Elliott & Fry and the other a posed snapshot.

The last item in the collection is a scrapbook compiled by George Gissing consisting of fragments or story ideas, clippings from various sources on topics of interest to him, and miscellaneous notes and lists he devised, all probably for use in creating characters or scenes in his fiction. [See Vertical File for a more complete description of the contents of the scrapbook.]

Collection size: 662 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.