Date of Birth: November 1, 1871
Best Known For: The Red Badge of Courage
By age 4, Crane had taught himself to read and was already writing. He was 8 when he first enrolled in school and completed the work of two grades in just six weeks. At age 14, Crane wrote Uncle Jake and the Bell Handle, his first known story. When he was 16, he joined the staff of his brother's news bureau for the summer. At 18, his first signed article was published. At 19, his story Great Bugs of Onondaga was published in two newspapers; he then decided to leave school to devote himself to working as a reporter and writer. Over the course of 1892, when Crane was 20, he had 14 unsigned stories published in the New York Tribune. That same year, one of his stories for the Tribune created a firestorm of controversy when the subjects felt they were being ridiculed; Crane's work for the Tribune ended that year.
At 21, Crane self-published his first book, A Girl of the Streets, later titled Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, which is considered the first work of American literary Naturalism. Also at age 21, Crane began work on a war novel, selling stories to newspapers to make money and simultaneously writing a handful of poems each day; his first collection of poems, The Black Riders and Other Lines, was accepted by a publisher that year. Just after turning 23, Crane's war story, The Red Badge of Courage, was published serially in newspapers, and he embarked on a trip through the West (of the U.S.) to write syndicated newspaper articles. While 23, Crane began work on 2 new novels--The Third Violet and George's Mother--and finally saw the publication of The Black Riders, which caused some commotion over its unconventional poetry. Also while he was 23, Crane's The Red Badge of Courage was published in book form and spent 4 months on bestseller lists around the country, with two or three more printings in 1895.