George Gissing and H. G. Wells, Their Friendship and Correspondence

George Gissing and H. G. Wells, Their Friendship and Correspondence

George Gissing and H. G. Wells, Their Friendship and Correspondence

George Gissing and H. G. Wells, Their Friendship and Correspondence

Excerpt

The dinner of the Omar Khayyám Club at Frascati's on 20 November 1896, brought together for the first time two men whose experience of life and attitude of mind were parallel at several points. Both George Gissing and H. G. Wells had been born in the lower social rank. Gissing's father conducted a comparatively successful chemist's shop at Wakefield in Yorkshire, and Wells's father half-heartedly kept a crockery shop at Bromley in Kent. Both men had dined with Poverty. During his early years in London Gissing had often fared on bread, dripping, and desiccated soup; Wells, as a student at the Normal School of Science in South Kensington, had been obliged to count his coins outside small fried-fish shops. Both had been depressed by quarters in Westbourne Park, a deteriorating, sub-letting section of London, and both had resorted to the Reading Room of the British Museum for light, shelter, and comfort. Each had made a trial of teaching: Gissing in a Massachusetts high school and in private tutoring in London, and Wells, after escaping from an apprenticeship in the Southsea Drapery Emporium, in a dismal academy in Wales. Both felt that religion was no longer a useful embodiment of human knowledge or a source of new light: they were even hostile toward formal religious groups. Gissing and Wells . . .

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