Stephen Crane (1871)
- Category : Writers-Fiction
- Type : GE
- Profile : 2/4 - Hermit / Opportunist
- Definition : Triple Split
- Incarnation Cross : RAX The Four Ways 3
American writer of naturalistic fiction and poetry who gained international recognition at age 22 (1895) for his Civil War novella "The Red Badge of Courage." The title stories of his subsequent "The Open Boat and Other Stories" and "The Monster and Other Stories" are considered among the finest short stories in the English language. As a newspaper man, he covered the Spanish-American and Turkish wars. His "Collected Works" were published from 1925-1926 and filled 12 volumes.
Crane was the youngest of 14 children of a Methodist minister who preached against intoxication and dancing and an equally righteous mother. Misfortune was the constant companion of his often itinerant family; with five siblings that predeceased Crane's birth. When the boy was eight, his father died; he lost a brother and sister during adolescence and his mother when he was 20. Growing up in Port Jervis, New York, Crane attended Claverack Military Academy, followed by one semester at Lafayette College and another at Syracuse University, where he was also captain of the baseball team. An avid reader, he was a poor student and seldom attended classes. After telling a friend that "college life is a waste of time," he moved to New York City where he worked as a writer and reporter for the New York Tribune. Two years later, he published "Maggie, A Girl of the Streets," a novella of tenement life, written solely from his astute observations. While visiting a picture studio in 1893, he found magazines with illustrated articles of Civil War battles. Ten months later, "The Red Badge of Courage," a novel about the carnage of war and the psychological study of a soldier's fear, was serialized in magazines, becoming the number one bestseller a year later.
With his curiosity piqued about the world's oldest profession in tenements, Crane became a regular customer in the Tenderloin district befriending prostitutes and, after seeing one named Dora wrongfully arrested one evening, intervened with the police on her behalf. Though Dora was unknown to Crane, he testified at a departmental trial. The policeman was cleared and, for all Crane's crusading efforts, the widely regarded author became the embarrassed subject of misleading headlines touting his bohemian life style, thus gaining the lifelong enmity of the New York City police commissioner, Theodore Roosevelt.
On the strength of "The Red Badge of Courage," Crane was sent to Cuba to cover an insurgence when, awaiting passage in a brothel in Jacksonville, Florida, he fell in love with the madam, Cora Taylor. Crane never reached Cuba. "The Commodore" sank during a storm, leaving Crane and others adrift in life rafts to find their way to shore. The harrowing experience of pitting man against nature served as the raw material for his masterpiece of realism, "The Open Boat." Surviving shipwreck, Crane returned to Jacksonville for Cora who, unable to divorce her estranged husband, moved to England with Crane where, almost upon arrival, Crane was sent to Greece to cover the 30-day Greco-Turkish War. Cora accompanied him, writing a journal under a pseudonym. Crane purchased a villa upon his return where he wrote incessantly; the extravagant couple lived mostly in debt while maintaining a literary salon in their home.
In 1898 Crane was sent to cover the Spanish American War. Frequently in combat, he was calm under fire and witnessed the Battle of San Juan Hill at close quarters. A rival journalist noticed a parallel, "in his devotion to duty, and also at his readiness at the exciting moments of life, Crane is quite as much of a soldier as the man whose courage he described."
Returning to England, Crane, already diagnosed with tuberculosis, suffered a lung hemorrhage in late December, 1899. He died 6/5/1900 in Badenweiler, Germany.