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Stephen Crane was the youngest of fourteen children His father was a strict Methodist minister who died in 1880 leaving his devout strong mother to raise the rest of the family Crane lasted through preparatory school but spent less than two years in college excelling at Syracuse in baseball and partying far more than academics After leaving school he went to live in New York doing freelance writing and working on his first book Maggie A Girl of the Streets His times in New York City were split between his apartment in the Bowery slum in Manhattan and well-off family in the nearby town of Port Jervis Crane published Maggie a study of an innocent slum girl and her downfall in a world of prostitution and abuse in 1893 at his own expense It was especially scandalous for the times and sold few copies It did attract the attention of other critics and writers most notably William Dean Howells who helped Crane receive backing for his next project The Red Badge of Courage Published in 1895 The Red Badge was quite different from Maggie in style and approach and brought Crane international fame and quite a bit of money Rather than plod through moral tropes the book is subtle and imagistic while still being firmly entrenched in the realism of the late 1890s in America Cranes rich portrayal of Henry Flemings growth through the trials and terrors of a Civil War battle betray the fact that he himself had not yet seen any fighting or battles when he wrote the book Many veterans of the Civil War only thirty years had gone by since its end praised the book for capturing the feelings and pictures of actual combat Bolstered by the success of The Red Badge and his book of poetry The Black Riders Crane became subsumed with ideas of war He was hired to go to Cuba as a journalist to report on the
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