Opened in the 1990s, the Gissing Centre is a small museum housed in a suite of rooms on the first floor of 2-4 Thompson’s Yard in central Wakefield. It is run by the Gissing Trust, staffed by volunteers and financed by donations. The house is the childhood home of the renowned Victorian novelist, George Gissing.
His father, Thomas Gissing, a chemist, had the Westgate frontage shop, and the Centre celebrates the stories, interests and achievements of all members of this family. Although George Gissing’s many novels and short stories continue to be the main literary focus, the Centre encourages knowledge and appreciation of our many other local writers of all genres past and present.
Gissing’s Wakefield, that of the mid-nineteenth century, is well explored in the Centre’s literature, and the team can offer guided walks around places with connections to the activities of the family. Thompson’s Yard and the surviving adjacent yards have their origins in the town’s medieval burgages, providing evidence of the development of the town over many centuries.
Regular opening hours are on monthly Saturday afternoons in the summer, and the Centre participates in the National Trust’s Heritage Open Days in September. The Centre also accommodates small writing workshops and presentations, and welcomes book clubs and student groups by arrangement. It offers a quiet studious space in the centre of town.
The continuing appeal of Gissing Studies in universities around the world has inspired champions of his work from many cultures. The Centre has contact with the quarterly Gissing Journal, an international publication by and for the academic world, and sometimes visitors from other countries find their way to the door.
The Gissing Centre is open on the first Saturday of the month from May to September:
- Saturday 5 August, 2pm – 4pm
- Saturday 2 September, 2pm – 4pm
The Gissing Centre is also open during Heritage Open Days. See below.