New Grub Street (1891) has the reputation of being George Gissing's finest novel. With bitter humour and grim realism, it tells the story of the ambitions, dreams, and disappointments of men and women struggling to earn their living as writers in the closing years of the Victorian era.
Jasper Milvain is a young writer of limited talent, eager to exploit every opportunity and social connection in order to make his way. Meanwhile, his more scholarly acquaintance Edwin Reardon may have enjoyed early success as a literary novelist, but his rigidly high standards set him at odds with the tastes of the mass market, and he seems destined for financial ruin.
For those who toil "in the valley of the shadow of books" the spectre of poverty looms large - and in the ruthlessly commercial world of New Grub Street, only those can adapt to the brutal demands of the marketplace stand a chance of finding happiness and fulfillment.