Red Badge of Courage

The author of the well-known novel “The Red Badge of Courage” was born on November 1, 1871.

Stephen Crane was born into a family of 14 children, being the youngest one. The family lived in Ashbury Park, New Jersey. He got his education at Syracuse University until he dropped out to become a journalist in New York City. He was hardly able to make a living when he started to closely observe the people around him. In 1893 at the ages of 23 he published “Maggie: A Girl of the Streets”. It was a story about a girl who descended into the world of prostitution and finally suicide. Even though the book was a success it did not sell well.

It made Crane look into more popular topics and in 1895 he wrote “The Red Badge of Courage” and by the age of 24 he was internationally known. Due to the success of his novel the newspaper syndicate sent him to cover the West and Mexico. Crane went to Cuba to write about the insurrection against Spain in 1897. While there he stayed at a rundown hotel and met Cora Howard Taylor, who became his lifelong companion. In Cuba the boat he was in sank and he barely survived and he wrote the short story “The Open Boat” about his experiences in a lifeboat with the captain and the cook.

Crane went on to cover the war between Greece and Turkey finally settling in England where he made friends with other authors like Joseph Conrad, H.G. Wells and Henry James. It was unfortunate that he contracted tuberculosis in his late 20s. His companion was there to nurse him while he tried to pay off his debts. All of this made him exhausted and his condition became acute. He died at the age of 28 in June of 1900.

“The Red Badge of Courage” remains his greatest work. It was made into a movie in 1951 starring actor Audie Murphy and in 1974 starring Richard Thomas.

#literature, #red-badge-of-courage, #stephen-crane