Online Educational Resources

Stephen Crane (1871–1900)

First and Significant Publications of Commonly Taught Texts

Early Reviews of Crane's Work

Essays and Criticism

  • “’The Open Boat’ is to my mind, beyond all question, the crown of all his work. It has all the stark power of the earlier stories, with a new element of restraint; the color is as full and strong as ever, fuller and stronger, indeed; but those chromatic splashes that at times deafen and confuse in ‘The Red Badge,’ those images that astonish rather than enlighten, are disciplined and controlled. ‘That and “Flanagan,”’ he told me, with a philosophical laugh, ‘was all I got out of Cuba.’”–H.G. Wells. "Stephen Crane. From an English Standpoint." The North American Review 171, 525 (August 1900): 233–243.
  • “The best correspondent is probably the man who by his energy and resource sees more of the war, both afloat and ashore, than do his rivals, and who is able to make the public see what he saw. If that is a good definition, Stephen Crane would seem to have distinctly won the first place among correspondents in the late disturbance.”–Richard Harding Davis. "Our War Correspondents in Cuba and Puerto Rico." Harper's New Monthly Magazine. 98 (May 1899): 939–948.
  • “The thing that most interested me was what he said about his slow method of composition. He declared that there was little money in story-writing at best, and practically none in it for him, because of the time it took him to work up his detail. Other men, he said, could sit down and write up an experience while the physical effect of it, so to speak, was still upon them, and yesterday’s impressions made today’s ‘copy.’ But when he came in from the streets to write up what he had seen there, his faculties were benumbed, and he sat twirling his pencil and hunting for words like a school boy.”–Willa Sibert Cather. "When I Knew Stephen Crane." The Courier (July 14, 1900): 4–5.
  • “[‘The Red Badge of Courage’] almost at once attracted attention, and Crane’s fortune was made. Old soldiers were the most ardent admirers of the book, for it told so graphically of the battle of Chancellorsville—of the death scenes and blood scenes and firing scenes—that they were taken back to the battlefield. They were astounded when they learned that the book was not the work of an old soldier, but of a boy—Crane was but 23 years old when he wrote it—who had never witnessed a battle and scarcely a regimental drill; who knew nothing of the scene except what he had read and studied out from maps and plats, and who had never seen a man killed.”–Edson Brach. "Stories and Studies of Stephen Crane." The St. Louis Republic, Part II (June 17, 1900): 18.

Lesson and Discussion Prompts

  • Compare Crane’s article “Stephen Crane’s Own Story” with the first publication of “The Open Boat.” What aspects of Crane’s real experience are included in the short story version? How do his account and the short story differ? Which version do you think is more effective in portraying Crane’s experience and why?

  • Crane wrote another version of “The Open Boat” from the point of view of the ship’s captain. Compare and contrast “The Open Boat” and “Flanagan and His Short Filibustering Adventure." What are the similarities? Differences? Which story do you like better and why? Why do you think Crane wrote a different version of his experience?

  • Crane wrote a series of short stories about the experiences of a young boy, Jimmie Trescott, in the fictional town of Whilomville. These stories were based on Crane’s childhood. “Making An Orator” explores Jimmie Trescott’s terrifying experience of reciting a poem in front of his class. What kind of audience do you think this story was written for? What does Crane think about the public education system? Read other Whilomville stories here.

  • Crane died when he was only twenty-nine years old. Many people mourned the loss of a promising young writer who had accomplished so much at such a young age. Do you think Crane would have continued to be successful? What do you think the rest of his career would have looked like?

  • "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky" first appeared in McClure's Magazine, which is available online. McClure's accompanied the story with a number of illustrations. Have students examine the illustrations online. How do they relate to what's taking place in the story? Why do you think these scenes were the ones chosen for illustration? Do these images add any further meaning to the story, and if so, how? Should the magazine have chosen different scenes or characters to illustrate instead? Develop and draw your own illustrations and artistic interpretations of "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky."

  • Naturalism, a literary movement influenced by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, places emphasis on the roles heredity, environment, and social conditions hold in determining characters’ behavior and actions. Crane self-published Maggie, a work noted for its Naturalism, in 1893 because publishers rejected the novel for being too vivid in its description of poverty and life in the slums. Maggie was later published again in 1896 by D. Appleton and Company, with considerable differences. Examine the two texts. How do they differ? What remains the same? Do you think certain elements of the story were sacrificed for its 1896 publication? Why is this book, as well as other of Crane’s work, regarded to be representative of Naturalism?

Contemporary Interpretations

  • July 19, 1953, radio broadcast of “The Open Boat” on Escape, a program that aired on CBS.
  • The Red Badge of Courage was made into a film by MGM in 1951. It was also the source of a made-for-television movie in 1974.
  • The 2008 Czech film Tobruk was based on The Red Badge of Courage.
  • The 1952 film Face to Face was partly based on “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky.”

Useful Biographical and Contextual Information

  • Stephen Crane’s obituary as published in The New York Times.
  • The University of Virginia’s webpage on Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage, and the Battle of Chancellorsville.
  • A lesson plan on “The Open Boat,” courtesy of Edsitement.
  • A lesson plan on Stephen Crane and Naturalism, courtesy of Edsitement.
  • The Poetry Foundation’s page on Stephen Crane.