He was educated at Back Lane School in Wakefield. Gissing loved school. He was enthusiastic with a thirst for learning and always diligent. By the age of ten he was reading Dickens, a lifelong hero.
In 1872 Gissing won a scholarship to Owens College. Whilst there Gissing worked hard but remained solitary. Unfortunately, he had run short of funds and stole from his fellow students. He was arrested, prosecuted, found guilty, expelled and sentenced to a month's hard labour in 1876.
On release he decided to start over. In September 1876 he travelled to the United States. Here he wrote short stories for the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers. On his return home he was ready for novels.
Gissing self-published his first novel but it failed to sell. His second was acquired but never published. His writing career was static. Something had to change. And it did.
By 1884 The Unclassed was published. Now everything he wrote was published. Both Isabel Clarendon and Demos appeared in 1886. He mined the lives of the working class as diligently as any capitalist.
In 1889 Gissing used the proceeds from the sale of The Nether World to go to Italy. This trip formed the basis for his 1890 work The Emancipated.
Gissing's works began to command higher payments. New Grub Street (1891) brought a fee of £250.
Short stories followed and in 1895, three novellas were published; Eve's Ransom, The Paying Guest and Sleeping Fires. Gissing was careful to keep up with the changing attitudes of his audience.
Unfortunately, he was also diagnosed as suffering from emphysema. The last years of his life were spent as a semi-invalid in France but he continued to write. 1899; The Crown of Life. Our Friend the Charlatan appeared in 1901, followed two years later by The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft.
George Robert Gissing died aged 46 on December 28th, 1903 after catching a chill on a winter walk.