Prof Richard Dennis Unveiled George Gissing Plaque

7th and 8th December 2023 were made special for the members of the Exeter Civic Society, as they celebrated George Gissing's stay in Exeter from Jan 1891 to June 1893. Professor Richard Dennis introduced the topic with his lecture on 'George Gissing an Exeter: A Transformative Writer at a Transformative Time in his Own Life', given at the Devon & Exeter Institution in the evening of 7th Dec. The next morning saw the unveiling of the plaque in Heavitree Road.

Unveiling in former Eaton Place

ECS was able to welcome a good number of members, alongside the owner of the house where the new plaque is shown. Chair Keith Lewis gave a short introduction, Prof Dennis spoke about Gissing’s time in Exeter and his stay in the house on Heavitree Road. Gissing being Gissing, he emerged behind the curtain a bit before the official unveiling, adding his humour and satirical approach to societal life to the mix.

 

We were delighted to have with us Robin Gissing, a descendant of George’s brother Algernon. Also present were relatives of the present owner of the house who had travelled from Zurich, and Gissing fans from Kent.

 

Teas and Coffees in Barnfield Theatre Cafe

It was time for all to get a good cup of tea or coffee, so we went to the cafe at the Barnfield Theatre, previously the Exeter Literary Society of which George Gissing was once a member, and where he attended lectures and borrowed books.

 

Tour through Exeter

Richard Dennis presented some more stories about George Gissing, before we all headed off on a guided tour around the city, in the footsteps of the 19th century author and his writings about Exeter.

And in the end the sun came out on what has become a very memorable day in the history of our Society. We guess a few more in Exeter will start reading George Gissing’s novels which relate in much detail to experiences, places and people he met in Exeter – and commented upon in both a loving and satirical manner.