(The Literature Network)
Stephen Crane (1871-1900), American author, whose second novel,
The Red Badge Of Courage (1895), brought him international fame.
The Red Badge of Courage depicted the American Civil War from the
point of view of an ordinary soldier. It has been called the first modern
Crane was born in Newark, New Jersey, on November1, 1871, as the 14th child
of a Methodist minister. He started to write stories at the age of eight and
at 16 he was writing articles for the New York Tribune. Crane studied
at Lafayette College and Syracuse University. After his mother's death in
1890 - his father had died earlier - Crane moved to New York, where he lived
a bohemian life, and worked as a free-lance writer and journalist. While
supporting himself by his writings, he lived among the poor in the Bowery
slums to research his first novel. Crane's first novel, Maggie: A Girl
Of The Streets(1893) was a milestone in the development of literary
naturalism. Crane had to print the book at his own expense, borrowing the
money from his brother.
Crane's collection of poems, The Black Rider, also appeared in
1895 These books brought Crane better reporting assignments and he sought
experiences as a war correspondent in combat areas. Crane traveled to
Greece, Cuba, Texas and Mexico, reporting mostly on war events. His short
story, "The Open Boat," is based on a true experience, when his ship
sank on the journey to Cuba in 1896. With a small party of other passengers,
Crane spent several days drifting in an open boat before being rescued. This
experience impaired his health permanently.
In 1898 Crane settled in Sussex, England, where he became friends with
Joseph Conrad, H.G. Wells, and Henry James. During these restless years
Crane refined his use of realism to expose social ills, as in George's
Mother (1896), which explored life in the Bowery. In 1899 appeared
Active Service, which was based on the Greco-Turkish War.
In 1899 Crane returned to Cuba, to cover the Spanish-American War. Due to
poor health he was obliged to return to England. Crane died on June 5, 1900
at Badenweiler in Germany of tuberculosis, which was worsened by malarial
fever he had caught in Cuba.
Crane's posthumous publications include the sketches and stories from his
life as a correspondent in Wounds In The Rain (1900) and
Whilomville Stories (1900), depicting a childhood in a small
state. Crane's works introduced into American literature realism, although
his innovations in technique and style and use of symbolism gave much of his
best work a romantic rather than a naturalistic quality.