The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: English Studies: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Sharon Cogdill

Second Advisor

Judith Dorn

Third Advisor

Monica Pelaez

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

George Gissing, New Grub Street, Poverty, Writing labor, Karl Marx


This paper explores George Gissing’s New Grub Street (1891) and the four main characters: Alfred Yule, Edwin Reardon, Harold Biffen, and Jasper Milvain to bring light on the reality of writers’ labor in the publishing industry in 19th century Britain. The characters’ impoverished lives are analyzed to see what money symbolizes, and how it affects their relationships, career prospects and goals, success in class, and their engagement in society. The theoretical framework of Karl Marx’s Capital is used to analyze the meaning of labor and money in the literary world of each of the four characters. Gissing carefully places the characters in poverty and compares their career paths to illustrate their methods of success and survival. Abundance of capital brings them luxury of time and class while the lack of it becomes “roots of all social ill” (Gissing 32).