Various places: Epsom, Rome, Sandgate, Nayland.
Ink on paper or post cards. 8vo and smaller. First letter torn in four and repaired on verso; others with some toning, generally fine P. Coustillas, Henry Hick's Recollections of George Gissing (1973), pp. 20, 47-49, 60-61. Provenance: Al Slotnick. Item #321828
Notable group of correspondence from author George Gissing (1857-1903) to Dr. Henry Hick, his friend since childhood. Gissing touches on matters of health, his travels, and with mentions of H.G. Wells. Wells was present at Gissing’s death on 28 December 1903 and included a long memoir of him in Experiment in Autobiography.
1. Autograph Letter, signed (“G.G.”), to Henry Hick, “… so you will see me tomorrow … Things are miserable, & I have to make the best of them.”. Ink on half sheet of laid notepaper, embossed Eversley, Worple Road, Epsom. 8vo. Eversley, Worple Road, Epsom: Sept 29, 95.
2. Autograph Note, signed (“G.G.”) to Henry Hick, from Rome. Ink on 10-cent post card of the Campidoglio, 9 lines, addressed on verso in Gissing’s hand to Henry Hick, Esq., The Priory, New Romney, Kent. Inghilterra. 4 x 5 inches. Via del Boschetto 41A: 27 Dec. 1897. Cf. Gissing Newsletter 12:1 (Jan. 1976).
In 1897, Gissing separated from his wife and travelled to Italy, where he wrote Charles Dickens: A Critical Study in Siena, and then headed further south to Calabria and the Ionian Sea. In December, he settled in Rome for some months, where he conducted research towards a novel set in ancient Rome. He wrote his friend Hick:
“Hearty wishes for the new year! No particular news. Cheerless reports from England, & can’t see the future. Bad, cold weather here. Kindest regards to all of you. G.G.”.
3. Autograph Note, signed (“G.G.”) to Henry Hick, on his plans to return to England, “Am very restless, & anxious to get to work. Very kind regards from Wells, who is going on to Naples. Conan Doyle here”. Ink on 10-cent post card, 8 lines, addressed on verso in Gissing’s hand to Henry Hick, Esq., The Priory, New Romney, Kent, Inghilterra. 4 x 5 inches. Hotel Aliberti Rome: [4?] April 1898.
Gissing writes Hick from Rome, where he spent several months researching “The Vanquished Roman” (published posthumously as Veranilda). “… to travel to England through Germany, spending some 8-10 days on the way. Shall come straight to New Romney for one night. Am very restless, & anxious to get to work.
“Very kind regards from Wells, who is going on to Naples. Conan Doyle here”
H.G. Wells saw the sights of Rome with Gissing as his guide, and later wrote a preface intended for Veranilda that was rejected by Gissing’s executors; Wells then sent it to the Monthly Review.
4. Autograph Note, signed (“G.G.”) to Henry Hick. Ink on halfpenny post card, 6 lines, addressed on verso in Gissing’s hand to Henry Hick, Esq., The Priory, New Romney. 3-1/2 x 4-1/2 inches. N.p., [Spade House, Sandgate]: Saturday, [n.d., June 1, 1901].
Gissing writes his friend Henry Hick, while staying with H.G. Wells at Wells’s new residence in Sandgate:
“I have decided to stay. May be at Spade House for fortnight. Shall be glad if, meanwhile, you are able to hear of any retreats for inebriates. G.G.”
Gissing “stayed at Spade House until June 24, 1901. He was now in much better health” (Coustillas).
5. Autograph Letter, signed (“G.G.”) to Dr. Henry Hick, “cannot think of any mental occupation here ; the atmosphere too lazy”. Ink on half-penny post card, 14 lines, addressed on verso in Gissing’s hand to Dr. Hick, The Priory, New Romney, Kent. 4 x 4-1/2 inches. Nayland: July 2, 1901.
“on the advice of English doctors, Gissing had to stay for some six weeks in the newly opened East Anglian Sanatorium at Nayland, Suffolk” (ODNB).
Gissing returned to France that summer and never visited England again, “but nostalgia for his native country cropped up increasingly in his correspondence … During a walk in early December 1903 he caught a cold which quickly developed into broncho-pneumonia; his condition at Christmas was so serious that Gabrielle Fleury telegraphed for H. G. Wells and Morley Roberts. Wells rushed to Ispoure and found Gissing still alive … However unpalatable a particular truth was, he courageously voiced it, and his lucid, if pessimistic, judgements on human affairs, as well as the sterling originality of his art, have secured his place in the history of the English novel” (ODNB).
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