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Stephen Crane


Stephen Crane (1871-1900), American journalist, poet, and author wrote The Red Badge of Courage: an episode of the American Civil War (1895);

But he was amid wounds. The mob of men was bleeding. Because of the tattered soldier's question he now felt that his shame could be viewed. He was continually casting sidelong glances to see if the men were contemplating the letters of guilt he felt burned into his brow.

At times he regarded the wounded soldiers in an envious way. He conceived persons with torn bodies to be peculiarly happy. He wished that he, too, had a wound, a red badge of courage. --Ch. 9

An exemplary novel of realism, Henry Fleming's experience as a new recruit and his struggles internal and external while under fire was hailed as a remarkable achievement for Crane and remains in print today. Crane lived a very short but eventful life--author and publisher Irving Bacheller hired him as reporter and he travelled across America, to Mexico, down to Cuba to report on the Spanish-American conflict, and later to Greece. He was respected by many authors, among them Henry James and H.G. Wells, and influenced many others including Joseph Conrad and Ernest Hemingway.

Stephen Townley Crane was born on 1 November 1871 at 14 Mulberry Place in Newark, New Jersey into the large family of Mary Helen Peck (1827-1891) and Jonathan Townley Crane (1819-1880), Methodist minister. After his father's death the Cranes moved to 508-4th Avenue in Asbury Park, New Jersey. The home is now preserved as a museum. After attending public school, Crane attended the College of Liberal Arts at Syracuse University, but did not graduate. For many years he had been writing, but his first novel, which he published himself, Maggie, a Girl of the Streets: a Story of New York (1893) was unsuccessful. The grim story of a prostitute and tenement life did however gain the notice of editor and author William Dean Howells.

After school Crane began writing sketches and short stories for newspapers, living in New York's bowery district. Started as a serial, The Red Badge of Courage gained Crane almost instant fame and the esteem of Bacheller. Crane's ensuing travels inspired further works including "The Black Riders and Other Lines" (1895), "The Little Regiment" (1896), "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky" (1897), The Third Violet (1897), "The Blue Hotel" (1898), "War Is Kind" (1899), The Monster and Other Stories (1899), Active Service (1899), and, said to be his finest short work, "The Open Boat" (1898), a fictionalised account of his own harrowing experience adrift in a boat after the Commodore sank.

Crane met Cora (Howorth) Taylor (1865-1910), owner of a brothel in Florida, and instantly fell in love. They moved to England, first living at Ravensbrook House in Oxted, Surrey, then Brede Place in Northiam, Sussex. The same year that Wounds in the Rain (1900) and Whilomville Stories (1900) were published, Crane became gravely ill again. He went to a sanatorium in the Black Forest of Badenweiler, Germany. At the age of twenty-eight, Stephen Crane died on 5 June 1900, and now rests in the family plot at the Evergreen Cemetery in Hillside, Union County, New Jersey. Cora survived him by ten years.

As he gazed around him the youth felt a flash of astonishment at the blue, pure sky and the sun gleamings on the trees and fields. It was surprising that Nature had gone tranquilly on with her golden process in the midst of so much devilment. --from Ch. 5, The Red Badge of Courage

Biography written by C. D. Merriman for Jalic Inc. Copyright Jalic Inc. 2007. All Rights Reserved.

The above biography is copyrighted. Do not republish it without permission.

Forum Discussions on Stephen Crane

Recent Forum Posts on Stephen Crane

How to Engage Crane's Work

I love Stephen Crane. He reminds me of an American version of Franz Kafka. His work is like a rhetorical question. Remember, he wrote AFTER World War I, so most Modernists and Naturalists believed that the world was changing, that people have gone nuts, and there is no order. When reading Crane's work, think of a Salvador Dali painting or a Biblical passage: ambiguous, and up to the reader to decide what he is saying....

reading Stephen Crane becomes a real torture for me

I just finished reading Maggie, a Girl of the Street, and I wondered why I didin't feel sad at all when it was a truely sad story itself. The author presented the story to us with a tone of unconcern, indifference, and calmness, as if he were a God, who settled everything beforehand. I think he considered nature as being extremely ugly, and human fate as forever doomed. It is a harrowing way to look into nature and life, in my opinion. I tend to view literature as a form of art, that deals with something enchanting, and works of Stephen Crane become the most distorted pieces of art I've ever come across, if they are still considered art at all....

Little Birds of the Night

I just thought this was a wonderful little poem Little Birds of the Night LITTLE birds of the night Aye, they have much to tell Perching there in rows Blinking at me with their serious eyes Recounting of flowers they have seen and loved Of meadows and groves of the distance And pale sands at the foot of the sea And breezes that fly in the leaves. They are vast in experience These little birds that come in the night...

The Open Boat

We were reading Stehpen Crane as part of one of my classes, and I just finnised The Open Boat, and it seems the majority of the other students in the class all think that this story was the most boring, and as they put it "Nothing happens" But there was just something about the story that I personally really liked, and I really did not find it to be boring. In fact I think it might be one of my faveorite of Crane's stories....

The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky

I think this might be one of my favorite Crane stories that I read so far. I found it to be really quite interesting. It is kind of funny, I have never before ready Wild West type of literature, nor never felt any inclination toward those kind of stories, and yet it was the Wild West elements in The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky, that I rather enjoyed. One of the other things I have discovered about Stephen Crane that I really like about his writing, is his use of language, he uses words sometimes in a rather unexpected way, and yet he seems to make it work....

The Monster

I found this to be a rather interesting story, dealing with certain moral issues that are still being discussed and debated today. I was just currious, what your own thoughts are on the Doctor's actions. Do you think he really did do the right thing in preserving the life of Henry? Or would it in fact in the long run been better, and more merciful if he had let Henry die?...

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Stephen Crane

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