'Because one book had a sort of success he imagined his struggles were over.' Scholarly, anxious Edwin Reardon had achieved a precarious career as the writer of serious fiction. On the strength of critical acclaim for his fourth novel, he has married the refined Amy Yule. But the brilliant future Amy expected has evaded her husband. The catastrophe of the Reardon's failing marriage is set among the rising and falling fortunes of novelists, journalists, and scholars who labour 'in the valley of the shadow of books'. George Gissing's New Grub Street was written at breakneck speed in the autumn of 1890 and is considered his best novel. Intensely autobiographical, it reflects the literary and cultural crisis in Britain at the end of the nineteenth century.
Katherine Mullin lectures in English at the University of Leeds. She is the author of James Joyce, Sexuality and Social Purity (Cambridge University Press, 2003) and Working Girls: Fiction, Sexuality and Modernity, forthcoming from Oxford University Press in 2016.