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the gissing trust

Gissing House

Gissing's House in Thompson's Yard, Westgate
Watercolour by Joe Clay © The Gissing Trust


The Gissing Centre is open from May to September every Saturday, 2.00 to 4.00 p.m. or by appointment.

George Gissing (1857-1903) the renowned Victorian novelist, lived as a boy behind his father's chemist's shop in Thompson's Yard. Although he left Wakefield as a young man, his early experiences in Wakefield are often reflected in his writing. He wrote 23 novels, short stories, and two studies of Charles Dickens.

The Gissing Trust was founded in 1978 by Wakefield Historical Society, Wakefield Civic Society and others to acquire and preserve the childhood home of George Gissing in Thompson's Yard, where family memorabilia, books and an exhibition are housed.

The Gissing Centre
2-4 Thompson's Yard

contact: Dr. Phil Judkins
mobile: 0797 144 9451

more information: The Gissing Trust


A New Exhibition for the 2017 Opening of the Gissing Centre

Just a few paces up Thomson’s Yard off Westgate is Wakefield’s smallest Museum. This is the Gissing Centre and is open to the public without charge every Saturday afternoon from 2-4pm, May to September.

The Centre is in the house where the Victorian novelist George Gissing lived as a boy, behind his father’s chemist’s shop at the top of Westgate. George wrote 23 novels between 1880 and 1903, and is regarded as one of the leading English novelists of his generation, enjoying friendships with fellow writers such as Henry James and H.G. Wells. The Centre houses family memorabilia, exhibition material and a large collection of books by and about Gissing. There is also a video to provide background information about George’s links with Wakefield.

The new exhibition for 2017 uses the same title as one of George’s novels, ‘A Life’s Morning’, which is set in a fictional town with many close similarities to Wakefield. This display imagines a morning walk of 1865, taken by the young George from his home in Thompson’s Yard to the Mechanics Institute in Wood Street, now Wakefield College’s Performing Arts Department.

There are stories of the buildings he would have passed, some still in existence, others demolished. Particularly exciting for the boy would have been the extensive preparations for the Wakefield Industrial and Fine Arts Exhibition of 1865 which his father was helping to organise. There are accounts of a number of influential townspeople from this part of Wakefield, who would have been familiar to George as associates and friends of his father.

Much of the research for this new exhibition is linked to the Wood Street: Heart of Wakefield Project.