The last four years of Grant Allen’s life brought him into smoother waters. He lived better than he ever had before, more at ease and with more opportunities to work as and when he wished. His health seems to have stabilized as he passed through his forties. He had several thousand pounds in the bank and investments in land and companies, and the expensive question of launching his son on a suitable career was settled, temporarily, when Jerrard was placed in his cousin’s publishing house. “Don’t take to literature if you’ve capital enough in hand to buy a good broom, and energy enough to annex a vacant crossing,” we recall Allen had advised the neophytes. But it had been years now since he had needed to think of requisitioning that broom for himself. In George Gissing’s Diary there is a lively pen-portrait of Alen in the splendid summer of 1895, when he was basking in the success of The Woman Who Did. Gissing met Alen at one of Clodd’s Whitsun weekends at Adeburgh. The creator of Rhoda Nunn in The Odd Women had no reason to think he would have anything in common with the supposed apostle of pagan free love, and he had already confided to his diary his opinion of his fiction: “Got from lib. Grant Alen’s This Mortal Coil. The time I waste reading trash such as this.” Yet he found himself liking Allen very much. His charm, his unaffected, naive manner, won him over.
KeywordsClay Dust Europe Amid Income
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