Stephen Crane

A picture of the author Stephen Crane

Stephen Crane was born Nov 1st, 1871 in Newark, NJ, the youngest of fourteen children. He is best known for his novel The Red Badge of Courage, an impressionistic novel about Henry Fleming, a soldier participating in the Civil War.

Though Crane was born six years after the war ended, The Red Badge of Courage has become one of the mostly widely read and influential war stories of all time. His brought Crane international fame and modest wealth. Though Crane never served a day of combat veterans who read his 1895 novel thirty years after the war praised its realism and ability to capture the feelings and images of combat.

Crane is less well known for his short stories, essays and poems, including An Experiment in Misery and In the Depths of a Coal Mine. A Dark Brown Dog is a superlative effort and well-known to short enthusiasts. Crane's first book, Maggie, A Girl of the Streets, was about an innocent slum girl and how she fell into the world of prostitution. Quite scandalous for the times, Crane published this work under the pseudonym "Johnson Smith" in 1893 at his own expense.

After his success with The Red Badge of Courage, Crane focused on ideas of war. In 1897 he went to Cuba as a journalist to report on the rebellion against the Spanish, but on the way he was shipwrecked and reported as dead. Actually, he had rowed towards land with three other men in a dinghy but was forced to swim to shore losing all his money on the way. Recounting the incident resulted in his most famous short story, The Open Boat, published in 1897. That same year, Crane published his third novel, The Third Violet.

Back to being a war reporter, Crane went to Greece to report on the Greco-Turkish War for several New York newspapers, but rumors of his life turning to drug addiction, rampant promiscuity, even satanism -- all of which were untrue -- prompted him to move to England.

Crane published his poetry in 1899, War Is Kind, and a book of short stories, The Monster and Other Stories. He wrote a war novel based on his experiences in Greece, called Active Service. Crane continued to write prolifically until his life was cut short, a victim of tuberculosis. He was writing what would become The O’Ruddy just before his death at the age of 28.