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by George Gissing
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George Gissing was an English novelist, who wrote twenty-three novels between 1880 and 1903. Although his early works are naturalistic, he developed into one of the the most accomplished realists of the late-Victorian era. Born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, to lower-middle class parents, Gissing went on to win a scholarship to Owens College, the present day University of Manchester. A brilliant student, he excelled at university, winning many coveted prizes, including the Shakespeare prize in 1875. Between 1891 and 1897 (his so-called middle period) he produced his best works, which include New Grub Street, Born in Exile, The Odd Women, In the Year of Jubilee, and The Whirlpool. The middle years of the decade saw his reputation reach new heights: by some critics he is counted alongside George Meredith and Thomas Hardy as one of the best three novelists of his day. He also enjoyed new friendships with fellow writers such as Henry James, and H.G. Wells, and came into contact with many other up and coming writers such as Joseph Conrad and Stephen Crane.
Tobias Liversedge was a man of substance, but in domestic habits he followed the rule of the unpretentious middle-class. Breakfast at eight, dinner at one, tea at five, supper at nine -- such was the order of the day that he had known in boyhood, and it suited him well enough now that he was at the head of a household. The fare was simple, but various and abundant; no dishes with foreign names, no drinks more luxurious than sherry and claret. If he entertained guests, they were people of his own kind, who thought more of the hearty welcome than of what was set before them.
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