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Stephen Crane Return to the Timeline
Stephen Crane
Stephen Crane pioneered the genre of psychological realism, often exploring in his work the thoughts of fictional characters facing death.

Courtesy of D. Appleton & Company
Stephen Crane, (1871-1900), was an American novelist, short-story writer, poet, and journalist. Although he died of tuberculosis on June 5, 1900, at the age of 28, Crane produced a vast number of newspaper articles, more than 100 stories and sketches, two volumes of poetry, and six novels. He pioneered in psychological realism, often exploring thoughts of fictional characters facing death.

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.

Crane was born in Newark, New Jersey, on Nov. 1, 1871. In 1891, he moved to New York City to work as a free-lance newspaper writer. Crane's observations of slum life inspired his first novel, MAGGIE: A GIRL OF THE STREETS (1893), about a young prostitute driven to suicide. Its subject matter discouraged publishers from accepting the manuscript, so Crane published it at his own expense.

Following a trip to the Great Plains and the South in 1895, Crane wrote two of his finest short stories. "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky" (1898) is an unconventional Western showdown between a gunman and a Texas marshal. "The Blue Hotel" (1898) is an ironic account of an immigrant's death in Nebraska. After 1896, Crane traveled widely, covering two wars and accepting newspaper assignments. On Jan. 2, 1897, he was shipwrecked off the coast of Florida. The experience provided material for his classic story "The Open Boat" (1897).

Crane's poetry was collected in "The Black Riders and Other Lines" (1895) and "War Is Kind" (1899). His cynical poems anticipate the free verse style of the 1900s.

Alan Gribben, Ph.D., Department Head and Distinguished Research Professor, Department of English, Auburn University Montgomery.

From THE WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA © 2007 World Book, Inc. By permission of the publisher. Visit World Book Encyclopedia for more information on Stephen Crane and related subjects.

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