Scope and Content

Letter to George Gissing from Herbert George Wells (1866-1946), novelist. Wells writes: "If Mr. George Gissing can tear himself away from the pleasant Epsom house at any time he will find a fervent admirer in a charming house (a little defective as to the roof & water pipes) & picturesque (if insanitary) surroundings at Worcester Park... he [Gissing] will be fed & given drink, tea, lemonade, or alcoholic fluids as he may prefer, & he will be conversed with in a genial but respectful tone. But as Mr. H.G. Wells rarely washes and is commonly unshaven and dirty about the cuffs, it will be refined behaviour on the part of Mr. Geo. Gissing if he abstains from any aggressive neatness of costume. (There is some accommodation for bicycles)."

There is a signed note in Gissing's hand: The first letter I received from H.G. Wells. Gissing notes the receipt of this letter in his diary on 26 November 1896 (Coustillas, Diary, p. 428): An odd letter from H.G. Wells asking me to go and see him in Worcester Park. He seems the right kind of man. Replied that I would go presently. On the front of the letter is attached a fragment of a newspaper clipping to which some of Wells' comments appear to refer, includes a small pen sketch by Wells depicting gate posts and a pathway.

Dated at Heatherlea, Worcester Park, Surrey.

Gissing first met H.G. Wells on 20 November 1896 at the Omar Khayyàm Club dinner at Frascati's, Oxford Street, a meeting which Gissing records in his diary (see Pierre Coustillas, London and the life of literature in late Victorian England: the diary of George Gissing (Lewisburg, USA: Bucknell University Press, 1978), p. 427 ): Wells amused me by rushing up, after dinner, introducing himself hurriedly, (only a minute as he must go,) and telling me that, when he first read New Grub Street, he himself was living in Mornington Road, poor and ill and with a wife named Amy! Queer coincidence.


Published in P.F. Mattheisen, et al., The collected letters of George Gissing, volume six, 1895-1897 (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1990), pp. 197-8 .