2009 Queries

Crane and drugs
Do you think Stephen Crane was an alcoholic and did he use opium based drugs for his TB?
In Crane’s time (1871-1900) the use of alcohol and drugs had not achieved the status of medical conditions. Crane was not an alcoholic; he was just a heavy drinker. There is evidence, although it is indirect, that he also used recreational drugs at various times in his short life. Photographs taken in his college year (he had only one) show him smoking from what is apparently an opium pipe, although the photos may have been part of a elaborate prank. His detailed description of Tenderloin opium dens that was widely circulated in newspapers by the McClure syndicate as “Opium’s Varied Dreams” and other titles demonstrates that he knew more thn most investigative reporters about how the opium habit is contracted, the manner in which the drug is ingested, and its effects. Also, in the early fall of 1896 Crane lived with a prostitute named Amy Traphagen (aka Amy Huntington; Amy Leslie) in a house on West 27th Street in New York that was known to be a haven for opium dealers and addicts. Police questioned Crane several times about his alleged use of opium and in a raid on his apartment claimed to have found opium smoking paraphernalia. I have no doubt that Crane drank heavily and used drugs, but there is no reason to believe that he was an “addict” (more or less a 20th century political rather than a medical term) or that he ever used dugs or alcohol for medical purposes.

Stanley Wertheim9/2/09
Red Badge Publication and SalesI would like to know some information about the initial publication of The Red Badge of Courage. How many copies were printed for the first edition? How many subsequent printings were there? How many copies have been sold to date? How many copies were sold during the first year of sales, and how much did it sell for? Finally, what is the value of a first edition/ first printing copy today?Thank you,
Jim Bob


Appleton records at the Lilly Library, University of Indiana, on the printings of The Red Badge of Courage are fragmentary. A summary of printings stipulates 27 September as the date of publication.  There were two, possibly three, Appleton printings in 1895 and as many as 11 more in 1896. The exact number of copies published is unknown, but The Red Badge was the first American  best-seller. The retail price of the first edition was $1.50. Appleton continued to publish The Red Badge in the same format until 1914. How many copies of the book have been sold to date? Perhaps millions; I really wouldn’t know. The Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America lists no first issues of the first edition for sale at this time. If a copy were available, the price would depend on condition and probably range between $5,000 and $10,000.

— Stanley Wertheim


Newspaper Articles on the Commodore

I am researching an aspect of Stephen Crane’s life, his experience on the Commodore. The captain of this vessel was Edward Murphy, a Newfoundlander. I am searching for the following documents:

Anonymous. “Capt. Murphy’s Story,” New York World, January 5, 1897.
Anonymous. “Captain Murphy’s Shipwrecked Crew,” Florida Times-Union, January 5, 1897.
My local library is unable to assist me. Would you know where I might be able to locate copies of the above-mentioned articles?
Thank you!
Burton K. Janes



I am puzzled that your local library can’t help you to obtain microfilm of the newspapers containing the articles you are seeking about the sinking of the Commodore. Are there no provisions for inter-library loan in Newfoundland? Actually there are more articles in the New York World and the Florida Times Union concerning this incident than those you mention and you should have no problem finding them in the microfilms of these newspapers for January 1,1897 and the following days. Failing this, you should buy a copy of The Crane Log (1994), which has copious extracts from these articles.–Stanley Wertheim5/6/09
Crane Singing?This may come as a strange request, but I am wondering if there are any known photographs of Crane playing music or singing?Thanks in advance for your response.Yours,

Dave 4/26/09

The Pike County Puzzle, a burlesque four-page newspaper about summer camp experiences, written and privately printed by Crane and his friend Louis Senger in 1894, contains satirical comments about Crane’s penchant for singing. There is also a photograph of Crane and others in the “Pendennis Club,” a boarding house in New York where Crane lived with a group of medical students in 1892-1893, that shows Crane holding a banjo. Generally speaking, Crane showed virtually no interest in music.

— Stanley Wertheim


Crane’s Poetry: Where published?In Joseph Katz’s edition of “The Complete Poems of Stephen Crane” he includes several poems under the label “Uncollected Poems”. These include five short poems under the title “Legends”; and two other poems: a short one which starts “Rumbling, buzzing, turning, whirling Wheels,” and a longer one which starts “When a people reach the top of a hill”. According to the Stephen Crane Society web, the latter was published in “The Philistine”, June 1898.When and where were the other poems first published?

Thank you.

Jeff Costello (lecerclerouge@hotmail.es)

Legends is a group of five short poems published in the May 1896 issue of the Bookman, with marginal illustrations by Melanie Elisabeth Norton. The poems are: “A man builded a bugle for the storms to blow,” “When the suicide arrived at the sky,” “A man said: ‘Thou tree!,'” “A warrior stood upon a peak and defied the stars,” and “The wind that waves the blossoms.”

“Rumbling, buzzing, turning, whirling Wheels” was printed on the front cover of Elbert Hubbard’s little magazine, The Philistine, December 1898

–Stanley Wertheim


Meaning of a Line from War is KindIn Crane’s book War Is Kind, there is a poem which starts like this: And yet I have seen thee happy with me./ I am no fool/ To poll stupidly into iron./
I would like to know the meaning of the sentence “I am no fool to poll stpidly into iron”.Thank you.

Jeff Costello
e-mail: lecerclerouge@hotmail.es 4/26/09

The “Intrigue” sequence of ten turgid love poems provide convincing evidence that Crane had no talent as a lyric poet. They have been given various biographical interpretations. The poem from which you quote was written in Havana in 1898. It expresses the tormented love of a man for a woman he believes may betray him for another man. “I am no fool/To poll stupidity into iron” reveals his insecurity and jealousy. He fears that although she shows passion for him, this may be deceptive and it would be foolish of him to transform a temporary ecstasy into an expression of enduring love.

–Stanley Wertheim

Crane’s PoetryI am in the process of looking at PhD programs in English literature and I have always been fascinated by Cranes “Lines.” I was wondering who is teaching/doing research on Crane’s poetry in the States?Andrew Dorkin
adorkin@iwu.edu 4-24-09
The newest issue of ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance has a lengthy article about Crane’s poetry.
Bill Crisman
I noted a reference to a Bill Crisman obituary in an issue of your periodical.  I am wondering if this could be the same Bill with whom I attended junior high school and high school in Pasadena.  I lost track of him and ran into him once in Berkeley in the 1970’s.  Would it be possible to get a copy of the obit?
much appreciated.
Nicholas George Rodriguez
Pasadena, Ca Nickrod987@aol.com
Crane: First Biographer?I have consulted that either Thomas L.Raymond or Thomas Beer, or Vincent Starrett published biographies of Stephen Crane all in 1923, but I wonder who was the first biographer? Usually Thomas Beer’s is often talked and it is now known that his contains many fictional elements, but it seems that the other two have been seldom mentioned in Crane study. What are the other two biographies like?
Thank you for your response.
Nora Shu 2/3/09
There was a separately published biographical sketch of Crane published by the Carteret Book Club in Newark, New Jersey, in 1923. Its putative author was Thomas L. Raymond, the mayor of Newark, and the book was prepared under the auspices of his office. Nevertheless, it is generally assumed that the actual author was Max Herzberg, president of the Stephen Crane Society of Newark. Given its scope, it is a commendable effort to highlight the principal facts of Crane’s life. Vincent Starrett’s book was not a biography but a descriptive bibliography published by the Centaur Book Shop, also in 1923. It is an excellent work that has not been much improved upon. That Thomas Beer’s book contains many fictional elements is an understatement. It is essentially a biographical novel. Beer’s subtitle “A Study in American Letters” was ignored, and until recently the book was mistaken for a biography, which has greatly retarded appropriate understanding of Crane’s life and works.–Stanley Wertheim, 2/22/09
Rights to “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky”I am an aspiring college film maker and I was wondering if you have any information on how to acquire temporary rights to the short story, “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky,” so that I may be able to direct it into a short film? My name is Pierce Berolzheimer, and my film company is named HRHFilms. I currently attend the University of San Diego, and have always wanted to direct a short western film to submit to various film festivals. Any information you have would be great! My e-mail address is HRHFilms@gmail.comThanks,

-Pierce Berolzheimer 1-9-09

Stephen Crane’s published works are in the public domain. No permissions or “rights”  are needed to reprint or adapt “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky” in another medium.–Stanley Wertheim, 2/22/09
Crane Interviewing Veterans?I have been researching evidence on how the setting of Red Badge is Chancellorsville and have come across some excellent essays including ones by Harold Hungerford and Charles LaRocca and read over the Stephen Crane Encylopedia by Stanley Wertheim.
However, I wondering if there is any direct evidence of Crane interviewing veterans or visiting any of the battlefields prior to the publication of Red Badge, if so are there any reliable sources documenting this interviews and/or visits.
Much Thanks1-9-09
There is no direct evidence that Crane interviewed Civil War veterans as  sources of information for The Red Badge of Courage, but it is generally assumed that he did so since the Drew Methodist Church and its parsonage in Port Jervis, New York, where he lived as a boy, is directly adjacent to Orange Square a popular gathering place for veterans. Nevertheless, his sources were probably mostly literary and historical. These have been well documented. Crane did not visit Civil War battlefields until after the publication of The Red Badge of Courage. In January 1896 he made a hurried trip to Virginia to explore the possibility of writing a series of articles for the McClure syndicate, but he apparently lacked motivation to become a Civil War historian and declined the project.–Stanley Wertheim, 2/22/09

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