Novelist of the squeezed middle

There’s an interesting feature by Anthony Quinn in today’s Guardian about George Gissing’s , linked to the difficulty authors have today of making a living from their writing. I’m not sure there was ever an intervening stage when all that many people wrote for a living, although digital technology is clearly disintermediating the newspapers and magazines that employed journalists during the 20th century. I don’t know of a data source for total employment by writing, still less income earned.

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Anyway, Gissing has long been one of my favourite of the great Victorian novelists, although less well known now than predecessors like Charles Dickens and George Eliot. George Orwell described Gissing as one of the best English novelists, and I think that might be because he shared the same preoccupations, the essentially economic ones of work and income at a time when industrial change is bringing about tremendous economic and social upheaval. Orwell was more concerned with the poorest people, in books like  and , although his novels () moved up the income scale. Gissing was a novelist of the squeezed middle.

Writers like  – The Guardian likes it so much that they had another feature about it (by Robert McCrum) just a few months ago.  and  are my favourites.

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