Stephen Crane

Stephen Crane

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American novelist, poet, and short-story writer, b. Newark, N.J. Often designated the first modern American writer, Crane is ranked among the authors who introduced realism into American literature. The 14th child of a Methodist minister, he grew up in Port Jervis, N.Y., and briefly attended Lafayette College and Syracuse Univ. He moved to New York City in 1890 and for five years lived in poverty as a free-lance writer.
His first novel, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893), a grimly realistic story of slum life, was unpopular but gained the young writer the friendship of Hamlin Garland and William Dean Howells. Crane's next novel, The Red Badge of Courage (1895, restored ed. 1982), brought him wide and deserved fame. Set during the Civil War, the novel traces the development of a young recruit, Henry Fleming, through fear, illusion, panic, and cowardice, to a quiet, humble heroism. This remarkable account of the emotions of a soldier under fire is all the more amazing since Crane had never been in battle. On the strength of the novel he served as a foreign correspondent in Cuba and in Greece.
Around 1897 Crane married Cora Taylor, who ran a brothel in Florida. His marriage, coupled with his unorthodox personality, aroused scandalous rumors, including those that he was a drug addict and a satanist. Because of this slander Crane spent his last years abroad; he died of tuberculosis in Germany at the age of 28.
Crane was a superb literary stylist who emphasized irony and paradox and made innovative use of imagery and symbolism. Thus, although realistic, his novels are highly individual. Crane also wrote superb short stories and poems. The title stories of The Open Boat and Other Tales (1898) and The Monster and Other Stories (1899) are considered among the finest stories in English. His two books of epigrammatic free verse, The Black Rider (1895) and War Is Kind (1899), anticipated several strains of 20th-century poetry.

About The Crane House - Historical Background

Saved from demolition in 1995 through the efforts of Tom and Regina Hayes and scores of dedicated volunteers (dubbed the "Crane Crew"), the Stephen Crane House is Asbury Park�s link to great American literature. This modest house was built about 1877 and was then known as "Arbutus Cottage". It was bought by widow Mary Helen Peck Crane in 1883. Stephen Crane (1871-1900), born in Newark, was the youngest of Mrs.

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Cranes fourteen children. He was enrolled in the Asbury Park Public School system, and it was there that he wrote his first fully-developed short story. Later he worked as a journalist, filing stories from Asbury Park for a New York newspaper. After spending his last summer at the Jersey shore in 1892, he left to begin in earnest his writing career in New York City. Three years later his second novel, his masterwork, The Red Badge of Courage, was published to great acclaim in America and Europe.
Despite his short life, Stephen Crane was a prolific essayist, poet, short story writer, novelist, and war correspondent. He died in Germany at the age of 28 and is buried in Hillside, New Jersey. Unfortunately, his birthplace in Newark was torn down many decades ago, and the Stephen Crane House in Asbury Park is the only remaining residence of the great author.

The House Today

The entire first floor and four public rooms on the second floor serve as a museum dedicated to Stephen Crane. The building was purchased in 2001 by local resident Frank DAlessandro in order to be maintained as a museum. That year the trustees had the aging building completely re-roofed in a style consistent with the original slate roof. The entire exterior has been expertly repainted by a prodigious local house painter extraordinaire, Kathleen Magee. The Asbury Park City Historian, Werner Baumgartner, serves as curator, keeping a watchful eye on rehabilitation efforts. Rehabilitation to the lecture room on the first floor is ongoing, thanks to the contributions of local residents. The generous donation given by Mr. Bruce Springsteen and friends has been of enormous help in making it possible for recitals, lectures, and poetry readings to take place there. An upcoming project is to make the first floor fully handicap accessible.
There were several literary events in early 2002 in cooperation with the Black Box Theater of downtown Asbury. The Stephen Crane House presented, on Edgar Allan Poes birthday, January 19, an evening of works by or about the great short story writer and poet. A Vietnamese language movie, "The Scent of Green Papaya" was shown. Participants also sampled Vietnamese taste treats that evening. An acclaimed one-woman show on "Jane Eyre" was presented to an overflow audience. And a panel discussion about the history of "Gay Asbury Park" was conceived and produced by Maire Martello moderated by Michael Liberatore.
Stephen Crane, 1871-1900
Stephen Crane was a prolific writer of fiction and poetry, whose realistic style influenced American literature for many years after his death. However powerful his writing was, his own life story was every bit as dramatic.
Early Influences
Crane was born in Newark, New Jersey on November 1, 1871. He was the fourteenth and last child of a Methodist minister, Dr. Jonathan Townley Crane. Dr. Crane's various church appointments led the family to Paterson, New Jersey and to Port Jervis, New York, a town that would provide the setting for some of Stephen Crane's short stories and the novel The Third Violet. When Dr. Crane died in 1880, his widow moved the family to Asbury Park, New Jersey. As a child, Crane had been fascinated with military history, and from 1888-1890 he attended Claverack College, a military school. He also briefly attended both Lafayette College and Syracuse University, but academics held little interest for him, and he was known mainly for his abilities on the baseball field. During his only semester at Syracuse in 1891, he failed five of six subjects, receiving a single A for English Literature. His companions reported that he was a frequent visitor to the local brothels and gambling halls.
A Rough and Vagabond Life
In 1888, Crane's brother hired him to work as a reporter for a news agency in Asbury Park. Crane enjoyed this work, and journalism would continue to be a principal means of support for him throughout his life. Crane also developed his fiction-writing abilities early in life, and while he was at Syracuse University he wrote the novel Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. Unable to find a publisher for this grimly realistic work about a young girl forced into prostitution, he borrowed the funds to self-publish it under the pen name "Johnston Smith." With the death of his mother and his failures at Syracuse in 1891, Crane moved to New York City where he worked as a free-lance reporter, lived a rough and vagabond life, and by some accounts nearly starved.
In 1895, Crane published his masterpiece, The Red Badge of Courage, an unromanticized look at the American Civil War that has been called the first modern war novel. Crane's editor at The New York Press gave the new celebrity a chance to see a real war by offering him the opportunity to cover the conflict in Cuba between the Spanish government and the Cuban freedom fighters.
Cora Crane
In November of 1896, Crane arrived in Jacksonville, Florida, where he would search for a suitable vessel to take him to Cuba. It was there that he met Cora Howarth Stewart, alias Cora Taylor, who was the madam at the Hotel de Dream. One of Crane's journalist friends introduced the couple, and she, by chance, had just been reading his novel George's Mother. When she presented the book to Crane for his autograph, he inscribed it "To an unnamed sweetheart." This meeting was the beginning of a love affair that would last until Crane's death in 1900.
Crane and the S.S. Commodore
One evening at the St. James Hotel, Crane met Edward Murphy, captain of the steam tug Commodore, a gun running or filibustering ship that was considered by some to be the best of the smuggling ships that regularly went to Cuba's aid. Crane signed on as an able seaman as a cover for his real mission as a reporter. The ship set out on December 31, 1896 and sank in heavy seas the following night. Crane, the injured captain, and two other sailors found themselves in a lifeboat about 12 miles off the coast of Daytona Beach. Seeing the beacon from the lighthouse at Mosquito Inlet, the men were able to guide the boat to shore. One of Stephen Crane's most famous short stories, "The Open Boat", was based on this terrifying experience.
Cora Taylor became Stephen Crane's companion and fellow journalist. She traveled with him to cover the Greco-Turkish War in 1897 and the Spanish-American War in 1898. Crane and Cora settled in England in 1897 and were well-known in literary circles for their lavish parties and extravagant lifestyle. Plagued by debts and tuberculosis complicated by malaria, Crane died at a spa in Badenweiler, Germany. He was only 28 and his career had lasted a mere 8 years. Cora Taylor returned to her old life in Jacksonville. She died in 1910. Although there is no record of a marriage, she had insisted that her tombstone read "Cora Crane."
The S.S. Commodore is found
In the early 1980s, Elizabeth Friedmann, a professor of English at Jacksonville University, became interested in the whereabouts of the Commodore shipwreck. She contacted well-known Daytona Beach diver Don Serbousek to see if he would be interested in searching for the ship. By coincidence, he had already been diving at a wreck site some 12 miles off the Florida coast that had a cargo of Remington rifles and other items that matched the Commodore's manifest for her last voyage.
At the present time, the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Association and Don Serbousek jointly hold title to the wreck believed to be the Commodore. Preliminary archaeological investigations have been done on the site, and the Light Station will mount a major exhibition of this work in the future.
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