Read by Eric Meyers (Unabridged: 1hr 10mins)
Stephen Crane was born 1st November, 1871 in Newark, New Jersey and was the eighth surviving child out of fourteen. Incredibly he began writing at the age of four and was published several times by the age of sixteen.
Crane only began a full-time education when he was nine but quickly mastered the grades needed to catch up and move forward. Although educated at Lafayette and Syracuse he had little interest in completing university and was keener to move on to a career, declaring college to be ‘a waste of time’. By twenty he was a reporter and two years later had published his debut novel ‘Maggie: A Girl of the Streets’. In literary circles this was hailed as the first work of American literary Naturalism.
Two years later, in 1895, he was the subject of worldwide acclaim for his Civil War novel, written without the benefit of any actual war experiences, ‘The Red Badge of Courage’. It was indeed a masterpiece and his finest hour. A year later life began its downwards descent when he became embroiled in a scandal which was to doom his career. In attempting to help a suspected prostitute being falsely charged by a policeman he became the target of the authorities.
Later the same year en-route to Cuba as a War Correspondent he met the hotel madam Cora Taylor in Jacksonville, Florida. This was to become the defining relationship of his life. Continuing his journey, somewhere between Florida and Cuba his ship sank, and he was cast adrift for several days. Rescued, he returned to cover conflicts wherever they were situated, some as far away as Greece. For a time he lived in England with Cora, usually beyond their means, befriending fellow writers such as H G Wells and Joseph Conrad.
In declining health and beset by money problems, Stephen Crane died of tuberculosis, aged a mere 28 on 5th June 5, 1900, at Badenweiler, Germany. He is buried in New Jersey.