Childhood and education
After the early death of their father, the novelist George Gissing, on 28 December 1903, his sons, Walter Leonard (born at Exeter in 1891) and Alfred Charles, benefited from a small government pension. The following report was published in The Times newspaper for 24 June 1904:
- "A pension of £74 a year has been granted to Mr. Walter Gissing and Mr. Alfred Gissing during the minority of either and in recognition of the literary merits of their late father, Mr. George Gissing and of their straitened circumstances."
At the time, Walter was a boarder at school in Norfolk, and Alfred had moved in 1902 to live with foster parents, a Mr and Mrs Smith who were farmers at Treverva Farm, Mabe, near Falmouth, Cornwall. Alfred lived with them until he left school.
After leaving school, and with war apparent, Alfred joined the British Army in late July, 1914. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant on 16 December 1915, and promoted to lieutenant on 7 July 1917. He was in India when the news reached him of his brother Walter's death during the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916.
After the war, Alfred Gissing remained in the army, serving in Iraq and then working for the Inter-Allied Censorship Committee between May 1919 and February 1920, when he left the service with the rank of Captain.
At about the time he left the army, Alfred Gissing assumed his father's posthumous interests from Algernon Gissing, and he went to live at Fernleigh, St Mark's Avenue, Leeds, Yorkshire, which had been Margaret and Ellen Gissing's home. He began to develop a collected edition of his father's works and to correspond with publishers and collectors as literary executor.
From 1924 until 1927, he lived in Richmond, Surrey. He wrote a preface for A Victim of Circumstances by George Gissing (Constable and Dutton, 1927), a collection of his father's short stories, and he edited a compendium of his father's work, Selections Autobiographical and Imaginative from the Works of George Gissing (Jonathan Cape, 1929).
In his own right, Alfred Gissing wrote biographies.
- Letters to members of his family by George Gissing, collected and arranged by Algernon and Ellen Gissing, with a preface by his son, Ellen Gissing, Alfred C. Gissing & Algernon Gissing
- A Victim of Circumstances and other stories by George Gissing, ed. Alfred C Gissing (Constable, London, 1927, and Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 1927)
- Selections autobiographical and imaginative from the works of George Gissing ed. Alfred C. Gissing, with an introduction by Virginia Woolf (Cape, London, 1929, and J. Cape & H. Smith, New York, 1929)
- William Holman Hunt, a biography by Alfred Charles Gissing (Duckworth, London, 1936)
- Stories and Sketches by George Gissing, with preface by Alfred C. Gissing (London, Michael Joseph, 1938)
- George Gissing, a biography, by Alfred C. Gissing
Marriage and children
On 26 July 1938, he married Frances Muriel Smith, a widow whose maiden name was Braham, in Broadway, Gloucestershire. They had three children, Michael, Charles William, and Jane, the last of whom became a British Olympic skier.
After the Second World War, Alfred Gissing settled at Salvan in the Swiss canton of Valais, an area well known to George Gissing, where Alfred founded and ran an English school for children displaced by the war.
The Gissing family moved to Les Marécottes, near Salvan, in 1951, and remained there for the rest of Alfred Gissing's life. He died and was buried at Salvan in 1975.
- CWGC entry
- Coustillas, Pierre, & Price, Russell, The Man is a Born Artist: the Relationship between George Gissing and John Wood Shortridge in The Gissing Journal, vol. XXXV, no. 3 (July, 1999), p. 2.