Stephen Crane, the son of a Methodist minister, was born in New Jersey in 1871. He became a journalist and worked for the New York Tribune and the New York Herald. His first novel, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, was published in 1893.
Crane was greatly influenced by the work of Hamlin Garland. In his book Crumbling Idols (1894), Garland put forward the theory of realistic fiction, which he called veritism. Crane later wrote that: "The realist or veritist is really an optimist, a dreamer. He sees life in terms of what it might be, as well as in terms of what it is; but he writes of what is, and, at his best, suggests what is to be."
Crane's second book, The Red Badge of Courage (1895), a novel about the American Civil War, was a critical and popular success. This was followed by a book of short-stories on the war, The Little Regiment (1896). A book about New York working class life, George's Mother, was published in 1896 and The Third Violet, a short novel about a young artist, appeared in 1897. Crane's experiences of being shipwrecked appeared in The Open Boat and Other Stories (1898).
Crane continued to work as a journalist and worked as a war correspondent in Mexico, Cuba and Greece. A novel, Active Service (1899), was based on his experiences during the Graeco-Turkish War.
Stephen Crane died of tuberculosis at the age of 29 in 1900. Posthumous publications include a book of poetry, War is Kind, stories from his life as a correspondent, Wounds in the Rain, and Whilomville Stories, about childhood in a small town.