Stephen Crane was the last of fourteen children born to a Methodist minister in 1874. His father died when Stephen was nine and the family was forced to move numerous times because of economic reasons. Crane never cared much for schooling and only completed one semester of college, however, this did not hamper his flair for writing. After leaving school, he did free lance writing and worked on his first book, "Maggie, A Girl Of The Street". The book, a study of an innocent slum girl and her downfall in a world of prostitution and abuse, was too scandalous for the time and sold only few copies. It did attract enough attention and he was able to receive backing for his next project, "The Red Badge Of Courage".
His second book brought Crane international fame. It was subtle and imaginative, while still maintaining the realism of the late 1890's in America. Crane's portrayal of Henry Fleming's growth through the terrors of a Civil War brought praise from veterans for capturing the feelings and pictures of actual combat.
War and other forms of physical and mental violence fascinated Crane. He applied and was hired to be a reporter in the American West and Mexico. Crane covered the Greco-Turkish War and later settled in England where he made friends with famous writers of the time including H.G. Wells and Henry James. He later covered the Spanish-American War for Joseph Pulitzer's New York World.
The stress of his life, compounded by an almost blatant disregard for his own health, led to is contracting tuberculosis. He died in Baden, Germany in 1900, trying to recover from this illness. He became known as a poet, journalist, social critic and realist.