Bettina L. Knapp
Born on November 1, 1871, in Newark, New Jersey, Stephen Crane was brought up in an austere and religious home. His father was a revivalist Methodist minister; his mother, the daughter of a minister, was even more church oriented than her husband. One of eight children (six others did not survive), Crane was raised and educated in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. His earliest extant manuscript was stamped with an intense feeling for nature as well as vivid dialogue marked by various regional accents, which would become characteristics of his future prose. But he was also fascinated by the seamy side of life: two novels deal with existence in the slums, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893) and George's Mother (1896). The novel for which he is perhaps best known, The Red Badge of Courage (1895), is about the pain and despair of the foot soldier fighting in the American Civil War and the terror of living out the transition from adolescence to manhood.
As a lad Crane had enjoyed mock battles and war games and had asked to be sent to the quasi-military Hudson River Institute in Claverack, New York. After the publication of The Red Badge of Courage and several short stories dealing with the military, he was determined to see some fighting. He set out for Cuba on an assignment to report on the Cuban insurrection against Spain, but the sinking of the Commodore, which was carrying weapons from the United States to the Cuban rebels, and his harrowing escape in a lifeboat thwarted that intention. He decided then to go to Greece, where a war with the Turks was imminent. There he witnessed the Yanina campaign in April 1897, as well as a battle at Velestino in May, which inspired the tale “An Episode of War.” Crane was by now enriched by experiences that would serve as the background for his novel Active Service (1899).
After his Greek adventure he settled in England with his mistress Cora Taylor,