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Stephen Crane 1871-1900. Anger and Intelligence. Background. One of eight surviving children of a Methodist minister and his wife Home schooled by his father and mother at first because of poor health Extraordinarily bright—taught himself to read by his fourth birthday

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Stephen crane 1871 1900

Stephen Crane1871-1900

Anger and Intelligence


  • One of eight surviving children of a Methodist minister and his wife

  • Home schooled by his father and mother at first because of poor health

  • Extraordinarily bright—taught himself to read by his fourth birthday

  • Enrolled in school in 1880 and completed two grades worth of work in six weeks


  • Father died when crane was eight

  • Mother simply left and left him to be raised by his brothers and sisters

  • He was raised largely by his siblings—especially Agnes, 15 years older

  • Series of tragedies began—death of siblings and in-laws, including Agnes

  • Mother had series of nervous breakdowns at loss of husband and ultimate loss of four children in six years

  • Sent to Pennington Seminary and then Claverack College from 1885-1888

  • Began to play baseball at Claverack

Early work as a newspaperman
Early Work as a Newspaperman

  • Began in 1888 as his brother’s assistant

  • Published articles beginning in 1890

  • Was published in college newspaper at Syracuse and in the New York Tribune by 1891

New york bowery and investigation
New York Bowery and “Investigation”

  • Crane left college and went to New York to find work as a newspaper reporter

  • Spent time in the Bowery

  • Attracted to the downtrodden and the fallen

  • Wanted to write an “honest and unsentimental” account of people living in trying circumstances

  • Was involved with a married woman and spurned by her by 1898

Freelance work and fiction
Freelance Work and Fiction

  • Crane struggled to make it by doing freelance writing

  • He also began work on his first novel

  • Maggie: A Girl of the Streets was published privately by Crane (for $890) in 1893. It sold so poorly that he gave away 100 copies. It was well reviewed but too “depressing” and about “depraved” subjects

  • Red Badge of Courage –chapters were first printed in serial form in newspapers and in magazines. That stirred up interest in the novel, which was printed in 1894 and was a bombshell

  • The Black Riders and Other Lines—Crane’s first book of poetry—was published in 1894 as well. It sold well and made Crane’s reputation as a poet


  • In 1895, Crane took a job writing travel articles for the Bacheller Syndicate

  • Traveled west to St. Louis, Galveston, and, ultimately, Mexico

  • In 1896, Crane began writing a series of articles for the McClure Syndicate by traveling to Civil War battlefields and reporting on the battles and what had become of the battlefields

Reputation and rescue
Reputation and Rescue

  • Crane became involved in a criminal case dealing with prostitution

  • He was exonerated, the girl was cleared of charged, but Crane’s reputation took a hit

  • Crane was sent to cover the troubles in Cuba

  • He was on the S.S. Commodore when it hit a sandbar and sank

  • One of the men in the boat died trying to swim to shore, though Crane was fine—inspired “The Open Boat”

Love and war
Love and War

  • Crane met and fell in love with Cora Taylor while in Jacksonville

  • She had already been married and divorced twice when he met her

  • She was also older—31 to his 27

  • Crane could not obtain documents to get to Cuba

  • Traveled to Greece to cover the Greco-Turkish conflict

  • Taylor went with him

  • Taylor also became a correspondent and they covered the conflict for two different newspapers

English interlude
English Interlude

  • Greece and Turkey signed a peace treaty

  • Crane and Taylor moved to England and stayed for a while, living together

  • Third novel (The Third Violet) received horrible reviews

  • Literary reputation worsening, money situation worsening

  • U.S.S. Maine exploded in Havana harbor and Crane traveled to Cuba to report on war

  • Witnessed the U.S. Marines take Guantanamo Bay

  • Sent home by U.S. military because of illnesses

Compounding illnesses
Compounding illnesses

  • Crane was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis in 1895

  • He had probably contracted it in childhood

  • Caught malaria and yellow fever in Cuba

  • Eventually earned enough to buy passage to England where Taylor was waiting

  • Suffered a tubercular hemorrhage on Dec. 29, 1899

  • Sent to a spa for tuberculosis patients in Badenweiler, Germany, with Taylor as his companion.

  • Died there on June 5, 1900, at 28

Literary importance
Literary Importance

  • Naturalism

  • Realism

  • Photographic realism

  • Red Badge of Courage

  • Major themes: ideals versus realities, spiritual crises, fear, and isolation

  • Poetry: Crane's poems tend to affirm certain elemental attitudes, beliefs, opinions and stances toward God, man and the universe