Cora Crane: A Biography of Mrs. Stephen Crane

Cora Crane: A Biography of Mrs. Stephen Crane

Cora Crane: A Biography of Mrs. Stephen Crane

Cora Crane: A Biography of Mrs. Stephen Crane

Excerpt

I think it must have been my mother who, in the carefully screened language of a Victorian lady, first mentioned in my hearing the fact of Cora Taylor's association with Stephen Crane. I had been hearing about Cora from the time I could walk -- little pitchers have big cars. But from that moment which I cannot date, my interest in the remarkable woman whose strange career had been so deeply enmeshed with the life of my native city of Jacksonville, Florida, took a leap forward. My subsequent years in New York City were taken up with other purposes and cross-purposes, but the idea of writing something about Stephen and Cora remained with me for half a lifetime.

Our old family home was on Forsyth Street, diagonally across from the post office, which then stood on the corner of Forsyth and Hogan. My elder sister, who has always had a passionate love for animals, especially horses, used to stand and watch Cora Taylor drive up in the fabulous victoria -- the secret envy of many a first lady of Jacksonville -- and enter the post office to collect her mail. Once Cora actually spoke to her, with a smile and a pat on the head, "Hello, little girl!"; and some while afterward my sister obtained permission from the coachman in livery to give the horse, a magnificent black stallion, a lump of sugar. When she rushed home with this thrilling announcement, the roof flew off the old house as our grandmother hit the ceiling, "Don't you dare speak to that woman, or go near her horse!"

By the time I arrived on the scene, my family having meanwhile moved to a newer part of the city, "Cora Taylor," as she was always known to Jacksonville, had already become a legendary figure. Two years after Crane's death on June 5, 1900, Cora had returned to build and operate "The Court"; and when she died in 1950, at the age of forty-five, Cora left all of her property, real and personal, to a local businessman of prominent connections, who had wanted to marry her.

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