chapter  5
16 Pages

At High Pressure? The Spinster and the Costs of Independence in Gissing’s Short Stories, 1894–1903

ByEmma Liggins

By the 1890s the short story was a hugely popular phenomenon, inspiring a SUROLIHUDWLRQRIQHZPDJD]LQHVGHGLFDWHGWRVKRUW¿FWLRQIURP*HRUJH1HZQHV¶V The Strand (1891-1950) to John Lane’s The Yellow Book±5HÀHFWLQJ the fast, even frenzied pace of modern life, as Angelique Richardson has highlighted, it ‘captured … the spirit of the age’; ‘concerned with questions, rather than answers, [it] was perfectly suited to give expression to the turbulence and uncertainties of the late nineteenth century’.1 Echoing a common feeling amongst novelists of the time about the declining market value of the three-volume novel, Gissing wrote to his friend Eduard Bertz in June 1895: ‘The small stories are, for the most part, poor stuff, but they keep me alive. My long novels simply will not sell; they disappoint everyone connected with them’.2