National Amateur Press Association
Monthly Bundle Sample, Leather or Prunella 9, October 1999, p.1
Whole No. 9. Published by Ken Faig, Glenview, Illinois,
for the NAPA Bundle. This issue dated 10/1999.
LEATHER OR PRUNELLA
A JOURNAL OF INDIFFERENT STUFF
Worth makes the man, and want of it, the fellow.
The rest is all but leather or
Essay on Man,
AN AMATEUR JOURNALIST SIGHTING?
I often look for notice of amateur journalists and our hobby in
odd places, and now my interest in English author George Gissing
(1857-1903), has brought to my attention another such association,
or at least I believe it has done so.
My interest in Gissing first arose because his novel
The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft
(1903) was so beloved by H. P. Lovecraft that he told his wife,
fellow amateur journalist Sonia (Greene) Lovecraft Davis
(1883-1972), to read the book if she wanted to understand his
opinions. Regrettably, I don't know if Lovecraft ever read
Gissing's work beyond
The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft.
He would surely have loved Gissing's posthumously published novel
(1904), with its setting sixth-century Italy. While I suspect
that Lovecraft would not much have esteemed Gissing's social
novels, he would probably have appreciated his dark portraits of
slum life in novels like
The Nether World
(1889). He shared Gissing's love for antiquity and would
doubtless have adored his traveller's account of Greek Italy,
By the Ionian Sea
Gissing's domestic life was deeply troubled. He attended Lindow
Grove School at Alderly Edge in Cheshire and won a scholarship to
Owens College in Manchester. But he became enamored of a young
prostitute named Marianne Helen ("Nell") Harrison (1858-1888) and
stole money from the college cloakroom in the attempt to "reform"
her. After serving a prison term of one month, he endured a year's
exile in America before returning to England, where he married the
selfsame Nell Harrison in 1879. They separated permanently by
1882, and Nell died in 1888. But Gissing again married unwisely
in 1891, choosing a working class girl named Edith Underwood
(1867-1917). She bore him two sons, Walter (1891-1916) and Alfred
(1896-1975), but proved to be a shrew. When family life became
impossible in 1897, Gissing set Edith and his children up in an
apartment and fled to Italy, where he lived in Siena and Rome and
toured Greek Italy for his book
By the Ionian Sea.
Gissing spent the final four years of his life with the
Frenchwoman Gabrielle Fleury (1868-1954). His wife Edith was
finally placed in an asylum in 1902, where she died fifteen years