Stephen Crane , (born Nov. 1, 1871, Newark, N.J., U.S.—died June 5, 1900, Badenweiler, Baden, Ger.), American novelist, poet, and short-story writer, best known for his novels Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893) and The Red Badge of Courage (1895) and the short stories “The Open Boat,” “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky,” and “The Blue Hotel.”
Stephen’s father, Jonathan Crane, was a Methodist minister who died in 1880, leaving Stephen, the youngest of 14 children, to be reared by his devout, strong-minded mother. After attending preparatory school at the Claverack College (1888–90), Crane spent less than two years at college and then went to New York City to live in a medical students’ boardinghouse while freelancing his way to a literary career. While alternating bohemian student life and explorations of the Bowery slums with visits to genteel relatives in the country near Port Jervis, N.Y., Crane wrote his first book, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893), a sympathetic study of an innocent and abused slum girl’s descent into prostitution and her eventual suicide.
At that time so shocking that Crane published it under a pseudonym and at his own expense, Maggie left him to struggle as a poor and unknown freelance journalist, until he was befriended by Hamlin Garland and the influential critic William Dean Howells. Suddenly in 1895 the publication of The Red Badge of Courage and of his first book of poems, The Black Riders, brought him international fame. Strikingly different in tone and technique from Maggie, The Red Badge of Courage is a subtle impressionistic study of a young soldier trying to find reality amid the conflict of fierce warfare. The book’s hero, Henry Fleming, survives his own fear, cowardice, and vainglory and goes on to discover courage, humility, and perhaps wisdom in the confused combat of an unnamed Civil War battle. Crane, who had as yet seen no war, was widely praised by veterans for his uncanny power to imagine and reproduce the sense of actual combat.
Crane’s few remaining years were