Stephen Crane was the last of fourteen children born to a
Methodist minister in 1874. His father died when Stephen
was nine and the family was forced to move numerous times
because of economic reasons. Crane never cared much for
schooling and only completed one semester of college,
however, this did not hamper his flair for writing. After
leaving school, he did free lance writing and worked on his
first book, "Maggie, A Girl Of The Street". The book, a
study of an innocent slum girl and her downfall in a world
of prostitution and abuse, was too scandalous for the time
and sold only few copies. It did attract enough attention
and he was able to receive backing for his next project,
"The Red Badge Of Courage".
His second book brought Crane international fame. It was
subtle and imaginative, while still maintaining the realism
of the late 1890's in America. Crane's portrayal of Henry
Fleming's growth through the terrors of a Civil War brought
praise from veterans for capturing the feelings and
pictures of actual combat.
War and other forms of physical and mental violence
fascinated Crane. He applied and was hired to be a reporter
in the American West and Mexico. Crane covered the
Greco-Turkish War and later settled in England where he
made friends with famous writers of the time including H.G.
Wells and Henry James. He later covered the
Spanish-American War for Joseph Pulitzer's New York World.
The stress of his life, compounded by an almost blatant
disregard for his own health, led to is contracting
tuberculosis. He died in Baden, Germany in 1900, trying to
recover from this illness. He became known as a poet,
journalist, social critic and realist.