Stephen Crane (11/1/1871 – 6/5/1900) was an American novelist, short story writer, poet and journalist. Prolific throughout his short life, he wrote notable works in the Realist tradition as well as early examples of American Naturalism and Impressionism. He is recognized by modern critics as one of the most innovative writers of his generation.
Crane shared with his contemporaries, American philosophers William James and C. S. Peirce, and later John Dewey, the belief that experience--not "Truth," "Reality," or "the Good"--is the starting point for and the culmination of philosophical reflection. For these pragmatic humanists, we confront realities instead of Reality; and because experiences, in part, constitute realities, the worlds of spectators and participants are not just different, they are often incompatible.
Crane never cared much for schooling, but he did attend Syracuse University - although only for one semester, and his most noteworthy accomplishments were performed on the baseball field. He lived the down-and-out life of a penniless artist who became well known as a poet, journalist, social critic and realist. His contemoraries noted him as being an "original" in his field of work.
War and other forms of physical and mental violence fascinate Crane. He began writing for newspapers in 1891 when he settled in New York where he developed his powers as an observer of psychological and social reality
Crane died of tuberculosis, a common cause of death before antibiotics and other drugs were discovered to treat the disease. He had had the disease for a long time. According to The Crane Log, he suffered a lung hemorrhage on 29 December 1899 but kept writing to pay the bills throughout the spring of 1900. He had more hemorrhages on March 31st, and by April 14, the Academy, a journal, noted that Crane was "lying seriously ill at the mediaeval house in Sussex, Brede Place, where he has been living for the past two years." At the end of May, 1900, Cora Crane takes Stephen to Badenweiler, Baden, for treatment, in a last-ditch effort to save his life. Crane continues to dictate portions of his last novel, The O'Ruddy, but dies on June 5, 1900.
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.
His short story, 'The Open Boat,' is based on a true experience, when his ship, a coal-burning tug heavy with ammunition and machetes, 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.
Crane had had no war experience. That changed, however, when he became a foreign war correspondent, first in Greece, then, during the Spanish-American War, in Cuba. He had many adventures in Cuba, including surviving the sinking of his ship, witnessing first-hand several battles, and the reaction in Havana after the conflict ended. His accounts and opinions are drastically different from Twain's.
Crane's greatest novel is THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE (1895), a story set during the American Civil War (1861-1865). It portrays a young Union soldier who undergoes a transformation from cowardice to heroism amid the noisy confusion and "crimson roar" of the battlefield. Crane based the youth's experiences on conversations with veterans of combat, fictional works, histories of military campaigns, and his vivid imagination. The novel remains a masterpiece of literature about war.
Stephen Crane (1871-1900) was born in Newark, New Jersey, as the 14th child of a Methodist minister. His mother was active in the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and published fiction. Crane started to write stories at the age of eight and at 16 he was writing articles for the New York Tribune.
The young Crane earned a meager living with freelance writing work while spending time in the slums getting to know the people there. Its bleak atmosphere full of hardships and poverty made its mark on the imagination of the writer. He later used his observations to write and publish his famous short story, "Maggie: A Girl of the Streets" in 1893.