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Scholarship and Mere Artifacts: The British and Empire Publications of Stephen Crane by Matthew J. Bruccoli and Joseph Katz
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Scholarship and Mere Artifacts: The British and Empire Publications of Stephen Crane
Matthew J. Bruccoli and Joseph Katz

Bibliographers and the scholars who rely on them have for the most part slighted the West-to-East transatlantic migration of American literature. In failing to discover the facts about the publication, distribution, and reception of American literature in the English-reading world, these researchers have not only cut themselves off from usable evidence about the influence of American literature — they have also deprived themselves of crucial information about those American authors whose careers were largely shaped by their success abroad.

Stephen Crane's British and Empire publications offer an eloquent case in point. Crane exiled himself in England during his most productive years, laboring to build not just a British following but, like Henry James and other American writers, a career in another country. He achieved prominence as a novelist with the publication of The Red Badge of Courage in 1895; he died in 1900. From 1897 on — two-thirds of his major career — he was headquartered in England. Perhaps he chose to live in that country in part because he had a congenial publisher there: William Heinemann distributed nine titles by him, more than did any American publisher. But there have been four Stephen Crane bibliographies,[1] three biographies,[2] and four book-length studies[3] — one of them a study of


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Stephen Crane in England — and yet there is no adequate indication of the realities of Crane's literary position in England and the British Empire.

The following is an inventory of unrecorded information about Stephen Crane's British books. It is not intended as definitive in this area of Crane bibliography; only incidentally is it presented as a contribution to that bibliography. It is intended primarily to fill in the picture of the artifacts by which Crane was represented to his readers by his publishers, simply as the source material for a discussion of some important ways a working scholar can use the results of bibliographical investigation to construct a sound and thorough consideration of an author's career — if by only raising questions about assumptions.


On 13 April 1942, Mr. Brett of William Heinemann, Ltd. wrote to Ames W. Williams in response to his request for the publishing history of the books by Stephen Crane published by that firm.[4] Brett reported that Heinemann's "file copies are missing as are some of our records," so that although he attached "herewith a list of details which I have made as complete as possible" he "had to rely on memory for some of the items, because the records have gone."

About The Red Badge of Courage, Brett notes: "First published November 26th 1895, in Heinemann's Pioneer Series, Green cloth, also in paper covers. Five more impressions done during Jan-Feb 1896. 6d edition, July 1900, 3/6 edition April 1925. The first edition was undoubtedly issued in 1895. If your copy dated 1896 has no indication on the back of the title page that it is a reprint, it is possible but I do not think probable, that the first edition was dated 1896."

Of course the first printing was dated 1896. And we have located copies of two of the five reprintings mentioned by Brett: both Bruccoli and Katz have clothbound copies which call themselves "Second Edition" and "Fourth Edition." In the first printing the sheets are .009+” thick. In the "second edition" — the probable second printing — the sheets are .008” thick; the copyright page reads "First Edition, November 1895"; and tipped in preceding the half-title is a list of notices for The Red Badge of Courage, separately paged [1]-2. In the "fourth edition" — the probable fourth printing — the sheets are .009” thick; the copyright page reads "First Edition, November 1895 / Second Edition, January 1896"; and the list of notices is present.[5] In 1900 Heinemann published a new 6d edition


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of The Red Badge of Courage, in pictorial wrappers, described below with Pictures of War.

For George's Mother — which was first published by Edward Arnold — Brett has no definite information: "Sorry, but I can find no records. It was a small book, done, I believe in a 7d cloth edition and was possibly one of the stories in 'BOWERY TALES'." Bruccoli and Katz have copies of a 1915 Heinemann publication in the "Sevenpenny Net Novels" series.

Brett states only that Maggie: A Child of the Streets was "Published September 11th 1896. A small volume bound in dark blue cloth with gold lettering back and side. No reprints." Williams and Starrett list reprints, including: "London: William Heinemann, [1915]." Bruccoli has a copy in the "Sevenpenny Net Novels" series, uniform with a reprint of George's Mother, dated 1915 on its title page.

The Little Regiment, Brett notes, was "Published February 6th 1897, in Heinemann's Pioneer Series, Green cloth, also in paper covers. No reprints." The Clifton Waller Barrett Collection, University of Virginia, has a copy in orange cloth which further differs from the standard format in lacking the pictorial front wrapper that was bound into the green cloth copies. This orange cloth binding is a Heinemann binding, not a custom rebinding. A reprint of The Little Regiment is described below, with Pictures of War.

Brett indicates that The Third Violet was "Published May 6th 1897. also a Colonial Edition; Red cloth and in paper covers A new binding of the ordinary edition June 1900 (designed by the artist William Nicholson) No reprints." We have not yet located copies of either the "Colonial Edition" or the 1900 binding.

On The Open Boat Brett states "Published April 18th 1898. Also a Colonial edition. Red cloth and in paper covers. A new binding of the ordinary edition June 1900 (William Nicholson) No reprints." The Barrett collection has a copy of the wrappered "Colonial edition"; we have not yet located a copy in red cloth. In the Barrett collection there also is a copy in green S cloth which BAL #4080 identifies as representing the colonial edition, but the copy is not so marked. According to BAL, "The publishers report that this edition was 'published 20th April 1898. 1,500 copies. All bound. . . . It was our custom to bind some of the Colonial editions in paper and some in cloth and unfortunately we have no record as to how many of the 1,500 copies were bound in cloth and how many in paper'."

BAL also notes a "Times Book Club Edition" in orange V cloth: "According to the publisher's records this issue was made up of the 575 unsold sheets of the first printing. The sheets were sold to the club March 20, 1906." Bruccoli has a copy in blue V cloth with the Times Book Club seal on the lower spine.


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Pictures of War, Brett says, was "Published July 13th 1898. Also a Colonial edition in cloth and paper. Ordinary edition cover design by William Nicholson, also a 7d cloth edition (records lost)" The wrappered "Colonial edition" is in the Columbia University Library; we have not yet located a cloth-bound copy.

Williams and Starrett record a 1916 Heinemann Pictures of War. Bruccoli's copy is a new edition, part of "Heinemann's 1s. net Novels" series, and contains only the stories in The Little Regiment. (The first edition of Pictures of War included The Little Regiment stories and The Red Badge of Courage.) Both the Columbia University Library and Bruccoli have copies of The Red Badge of Courage in pictorial wrappers published by Heinemann in 1900 at 6d. The running title in this volume is 'PICTURES OF WAR,' and it is almost certain that this book was printed from the original plates of Pictures of War.

Although War Is Kind was offered to Heinemann, as Brett states: "Half a dozen copies of the American Edition had a Heinemann Title page for purposes of Copyright. It was not published in England." Either Stephen or Cora Crane managed to get a Heinemann file copy of War Is Kind. It is now in the Columbia University Library, and it helps to clarify Brett's description. As we have noted in The Stephen Crane Newsletter, this book is a copy of the Stokes edition with the Heinemann imprint stamped on the title page.[6]

By the time Active Service was completed on 13 May 1899, Crane was living at Brede Place.[7] One would therefore expect that, as was usual under such circumstances, an English edition would be set from the manuscript and that an American edition would be set from the English print. This was not the case with Active Service. In the Columbia University Library there survive a typescript and a partial proof for the Heinemann edition. The typescript has two versions of Chapter VI, a ribbon copy and a carbon copy. The proof includes both of these versions. Evidently the compositors setting the Heinemann edition reproduced the duplicated chapters from the typescript, but of course the duplication was caught before the book went to press. The version removed from the proof appears in the American edition published by Stokes. In the Stokes edition there are other, numerous differences from the text of the Heinemann edition. Clearly, the textual evidence is that each edition was set independently from a separate typescript; and the duplicate sixth chapter in the surviving typescript is a carbon of the script used by Stokes.

Brett notes only that Active Service was "Published November 2nd 1899, also a Colonial edition cloth and paper. No reprints." Bruccoli has a copy from "Heinemann's Colonial Library of Popular Fiction" in red P


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cloth. This book is probably a new issue of the original sheets, with a special form of the preliminary matter as pp. [i-iv]. Page ii lists as uniform with this volume The Open Boat, The Third Violet, and Pictures of War.

Katz has a copy of the London issue of Active Service that represents a separate publisher's binding. This copy is the same as the primary binding, but the sheets have been trimmed to 7 14/32” x 4¾” and the publisher's catalogue has been omitted. Both Bruccoli and Katz have copies of a Canadian printing from the American plates. The title page imprint is: "TORONTO : / WILLIAM BRIGGS. / 1899." The sheets in this impression are .005” thick, whereas the Stokes sheets are .006”. This Canadian printing is bound in the same style as the American, but it is stamped in red and green and has the Briggs imprint on the lower spine.

For Bowery Tales Brett notes: "Published June 23rd 1900. Also a Colonial edition cloth and paper. No reprints." We have not yet located a copy of the "Colonial edition." Syracuse University Library and Bruccoli, however, have copies in blue V cloth with the Times Book Club seal on the spine. The title page is integral and reads:

Bowery Tales / By/ Stephen Crane / Author of / "The Red Badge of Courage," etc. / London / William Heinemann / 1900
The title page of the trade issue is a cancel and reads:
Bowery Tales / George's Mother / Maggie / By / Stephen Crane / Author of / "The Red Badge of Courage," etc. / London / William Heinemann / 1900
Since the Times Book Club was not organized until 1905, and their issue of Bowery Tales consists of remainder sheets, it is clear that the integral title page in their issue is in fact the original title page. The cancellation in the 1900 trade copies was for the purpose of indicating the contents on the title page of this omnibus volume. But by 1905 such extra work was not worth while — even assuming that the reprinted title pages were still available in 1905.

We are fortunate in having seen Methuen's records for Wounds in the Rain.[8] There were two printings of 2500 and 1000 copies each. Apparently there was a colonial issue — in both cloth and wrappers — of the first printing. In 1905 650 cancel titles were printed, of which 300 were used for "1/- Novels" — that is, to convert unsold sheets into a cheap re-issue. We have not yet located a copy of the shilling re-issue.

As we noted in The Stephen Crane Newsletter (I [Winter 1966], 3-4), Great Battles of the World was issued by Bell's Indian & Colonial Library (London & Bombay, 1901) in printed wrappers; and a copy in red T cloth


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is in the Barrett Collection. These copies probably represent a separate issue with new preliminary matter, rather than a fresh printing.

That, as BAL #4096 suggests, some copies of Last Words were distributed by the Times Book Club is established by three copies trimmed to 7 3/32” x 4 13/16”, all with the Times Book Club label: blue-grey V cloth (Bruccoli); brown V cloth and red V cloth (Library of Congress). Last Words was also issued in "Bell's Indian & Colonial Library" (London & Bombay, 1902). The Bruccoli copy in printed wrappers appears to be a re-issue of the original sheets. This copy includes a catalogue that lists Great Battles and The Monster as part of the series. That these three titles were originally published in England by other firms and re-issued in "Bell's Indian & Colonial Library" strongly suggests that the Bell series was a graveyard for unsold sheets.


The length of the foregoing inventory of new information suggests an easy conclusion: available sources of information about Crane's British and Empire books are inadequate. As one investigates just this area of Crane scholarship in which the bibliographies are all markedly defective, textual anxieties arise. The rule is that every reprint must be suspected of introducing changes in its text — until collation resolves suspicion. How many such variants lurk in the texts of Crane's Empire books we do not yet know. We now can only reveal what we have discovered so far: that the unrecorded books do exist, that certainly there is evidence to believe that still more remain to be located, and that their author was writing in the country of their origin when many of them were printed.

But if Stephen Crane's bibliographers have skimped an important aspect of his career, scholars generally have failed to make good use of what is available. As the color of Crane's life attracted attention, it often obscured the basic questions one asks about an author's career. Assumptions transmitted from the past have become traditions. Their apparent authority, received with little skepticism, seems frequently to have discouraged independent investigations that would have established quite contrary facts. As a result there has been distortion of Crane biography that in turn has led to distorted judgments on Crane's career as a professional author and, cumulatively, to distortion of an aspect of American literary history.

For example, two beliefs are widely held about Stephen Crane in England: that he was very extravagant and very popular. Always, his staggering debts are used as evidence that he had a talent for spending: The Red Badge of Courage was a best-seller in England as well as the United States; one imagines that Crane's income from this book alone would have been substantial; therefore one concludes that he indulged either in shameful waste or heroic luxury. Again, the tradition is that Crane was warmly received by the English book-buyers. England had given


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The Red Badge of Courage its first great acclaim, many subsequent reviews were flattering, and the great number of titles by Crane published there showed frankly committed publishers. In fact, soon after Heinemann's publication of The Red Badge of Courage a partner in the firm wrote Crane a declaration of commitment to his career:
My partner Mr. Heinemann has gone to Paris on business and so I have the pleasure of writing to you. We would like very cordially to express our appreciation of your book "The Red Badge of Courage" which we have purchased from Messrs Appleton Co. of New York. We think so highly of your work — of its actuality — virility + literary distinction that we have been very pleased to take special pains to place it prominently before the British public. I have sent about one hundred gratis copies to the leading literary men of this country, + have personally seen some of the principal London reviewers. I have called Mr. Sheldon's attention to some of the excellent reviews obtained already — Mr. Sheldon represents Messrs. Appleton over here. I hope in the January number of our review "The New Review" to have a special article by the Hon George Wyndham M P on the book. Mr. Wyndham is now secretary to Mr. A. J. Balfour the Leader of our House of Commons, served as a soldier in Her Majesty's Guards: he has also done very excellent literary work. I think there is no doubt the book will obtain the success it so eminently deserves + I have thus early made an opportunity to write you to say how pleased we are to be identified with your work. I hope we shall in the future have the privilege of publishing your books in this country, and if there is any way in which we can be of service to you over here I beg that you will not hesitate to let us know.[9]

The figure of a Gatsbyesque Stephen Crane has been attractive, but it simply is not substantiated by facts recovered from the kinds of evidence on which a full, descriptive bibliography of Crane will rest. Not that one can question the success of The Red Badge of Courage: six printings within the first four months of English publication can only set that belief on a more solid base. It is the notion that Crane profited financially by that success which must be rejected. Because the contract he signed with Appleton makes no reference to the disposition of foreign rights to his novel, he evidently was at the mercy of the American house.[10] On 23 October 1895 Appleton sold the English rights to Heinemann for a flat payment of £35. Crane may not have shared in even this small amount: £20 reportedly (Stallman, Stephen Crane, p. 184) paid him by Heinemann is a trifle. And as there emerges a bibliographical pattern in which one must decide that


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Crane was little more than a one-book author at the English stalls, his debts must speak more of foolish optimism based on a personal succes d'estime than they do of prodigious squanderings. It is true that the Cranes lived beyond their means; but the point is that his current earnings were not substantial — they were spending money he hoped to earn.

Studies of an author's reputation are traditionally based on patterns formed by reviews. But there are two serious flaws in this approach. Reviewers swim in schools. One must wonder how much of the warmth displayed by reviewers for The Red Badge of Courage was kindled by the attentions of an enthusiastic Sidney Pawling. In addition, the reception of a book must be indexed by the way it attracts the cash of buyers. And reviewers do not buy books — they get them, as Pawling indicates, "gratis." In the absence of a publisher's sales records, the most reliable indications of an author's reception must be bibliographical.

For Stephen Crane those indications after The Red Badge of Courage now create a pattern of publication that progressively became less hopeful: modest sales, and eventual loss-cutting. Heinemann's critical judgment of their first Crane book had been borne out by its sales, so they evidently adopted Crane as a house author. With Copeland & Day, the American publisher who had first distributed Crane's book of poems, they joined in a reprint of The Black Riders and Other Lines in 1896, and in November of that year they published a further reprinting under their own imprint.[11] This publication of a book of poems bound lavishly in leather speaks of speculation in futures. So does the Heinemann publication of Maggie that same year: W. D. Howells's preface and the attractive goldstamped blue binding show more investment than do the Appleton buckram and "Publisher's Note."

The commitment comes through in the resolution of a problem both Appleton and Heinemann had with Crane at about this time. In May of 1896 George's Mother was published in America, and in June in England, under the imprint of Edward Arnold. Although he denied the charge, Crane had been "playing one house against another." It is a significant indicator of Appleton's and Heinemann's hopes for him that he was successful in his game: in July he wrote first to explain to Appleton that Arnold had appealed to his "avarice," then to confirm his support for Appleton's arrangement with Heinemann on future books. Appleton had purchased his support with a 5% boost in royalties.[12]

The year 1896 was a big year for Crane's English books. It saw five of the six printings of The Red Badge of Courage in its first two months.


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Maggie and The Black Riders and Other Lines were published that year as well. And a preliminary page in Maggie advertised The Little Regiment — "Shortly." But The Little Regiment was delayed in England until 6 February 1897, three and one-half months after the Appleton edition was deposited for copyright at both the Library of Congress and the British Museum. The delay is puzzling. In May, 1897, however, The Third Violet was published in England. Here the bad years begin.

It is possible that, as Williams and Starrett surmise, copies of The Third Violet issued with a purple ribbon through the tan binding were attempts at dressing up a slow-moving book. If so, it did not work. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the presumption must be that the colonies normally were a dumping-ground for remainder sheets Presumably sheets of The Third Violet were available for the unlocated colonial rebinding three years later, after Crane's death. It is clear that the book did not sell well.

Similar evidence that Crane's peak sales had passed is in the circumstances of The Open Boat and Other Stories the following year, 1898. By now Heinemann must have decided to hedge their bet through size. But twice the bulk of the American collection, and containing some of Crane's finest short fiction, the Heinemann publication still had sales below that which was anticipated. When Crane died two years later there were sufficient sheets to justify a new binding in the Nicholson style, and five years after that there were even enough then to make profitable their disposal to The Times Book Club.

Pictures of War indicates that Heinemann's conception of Crane's relationship to them had changed. Obviously the book is an attempt at turning once-prized material to advantage in a cheaper market. Three months after The Open Boat had been published as an appeal to the British sense of commodities, Heinemann tried the appeal again. If Crane was remembered for The Red Badge of Courage, the collection of that novel with the Civil War tales of The Little Regiment should have been successful. Evidently it was not: the colonies had to be called on to take the remainder issue. By the time War Is Kind was offered to Heinemann in 1898 there was no question that they would do more than token publication for copyright purposes — six copies. Another novel, especially one based on the Greco-Turkish War, must have seemed like a more promising gamble to Heinemann, but that gamble failed and Active Service was sent to the colonies. Then Crane died.

The death of an author as colorful as Stephen Crane gives obvious opportunities to a publisher with unsold stock in his warehouse. And Crane's steady decline after the legendary Christmas party at Brede in 1899 at which he hemorrhaged severely left few in doubt that his end would be soon. William Nicholson's design for the binding of Active Service was adapted to the purpose of making a "set" of unsold English Cranes: Active Service, The Third Violet, Pictures of War, and The Open Boat. Perhaps


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in anticipation of Crane's death, perhaps because they already owned Maggie and had just acquired the English rights to George's Mother, Heinemann published a pairing of the two slum novels as Bowery Tales, in the Nicholson binding eighteen days after Crane died.

These strategems reduced the warehouse stock, some. But Bowery Tales itself went to the colonies. Six years later unsold sheets of it and The Open Boat went to The Times Book Club. The significance of these sales to The Times Book Club is not just that Heinemann still had sheets on hand in 1905-06; it is also that it required a decision on Heinemann's part to sell those sheets in order to cut their losses on Stephen Crane. We are in receipt of a personal communication from Mr. James Geibel, who is preparing a study of The Times Book Club, that gives perspective to the inclusion of Crane's books in the Club's list:

The Times Book Club began a combined circulating library and discount selling operation in September, 1905. A complicated dispute about the discount sales of "net" books soon developed between the Club and the Publishers' Association, resulting in a general boycott of the Club by most publishers. It was effective enough to make the Club desperate for titles by the spring of 1906. However, the publishers appear to have limited the boycott to new, fast-moving titles — as evidenced by their extensive efforts to keep Murray's best-selling Letters of Queen Victoria from the Club. Soon it was forced to take whatever remainder copies and sheets the publishers were pleased to unload on a cornered buyer. This was the period during which the Club purchased Crane titles. The dispute was settled and the boycott lifted in 1907. The Times Book Club Catalogue for 1905 lists five Crane titles (Great Battles of the World, Last Words, The Red Badge of Courage, Wounds in the Rain, and The O'Ruddy), but the 1911 catalogue offers only Great Battles.[13] Perhaps the Club's interest in Crane diminished when better-selling items became available to it; or perhaps its other Crane books had been sold out during the six years.
There is an equally significant indicator of Crane's fall from Heinemann's grace at this point. In July, 1900, the plates of Pictures of War were used to print cheap copies of The Red Badge of Courage which carried on their wrapper advertisements for cameras, boot polish, and "Harlene for the Hair." Five years after it had won England and William Heinemann, The Red Badge of Courage was reduced to this ignominy.

Small wonder then that Heinemann could have seen little reason to compete with Methuen for Wounds in the Rain (September 1900); with Chapman & Hall for Great Battles of the World (July 1901); or with Digby, Long for Last Words (May 1902). Crane's first English publishers probably could have foreseen the results: The Times Book Club had


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available to it remainders of Great Battles of the World and Last Words. The O'Ruddy might have surprised them with its comparative success: it required three printings in England. But given the ebb of Crane's reputation by 1903, one surmises that it was not Crane, but Robert Barr, his posthumous collaborator and a popular writer of adventure romances, whose name sold the novel.

But the story of Stephen Crane in England is not one of steady decline. With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, he became marketable again, if only in the new cheap lines that publishers developed then. Perhaps war brought recollections of the area of fiction for which Crane had been most famous. In 1914 Hodder and Stoughton published a new edition of Great Battles of the World in "The Daily Telegraph War Books" series. And in 1916 Heinemann brought this Crane back with Pictures of War — really only The Little Regiment — in their 1s line. In 1915 they had resurrected another Crane with both Maggie and George's Mother in their 7d line.

We break here, with Stephen Crane's reception on an upswing far different from the burst with which it had begun and after which it immediately declined. If its subsequent evolution is to be traced reliably, it must be done in this way — through the evidence of the forms in which he was published. For an eclectic scholar, as for a bibliographer, bibliographical evidence can prove to be the base on which to reconstruct an author's career.[14]



Vincent Starrett, Stephen Crane: A Bibliography (1923); B. J. R. Stolper, Stephen Crane: A List of His Writings. (1930); Ames W. Williams and Vincent Starrett, Stephen Crane: A Bibliography (1948); Jacob Blanck, Bibliography of American Literature, II (1957); pp. 329-338.


Thomas Beer, Stephen Crane (1923); John Berryman, Stephen Crane (1950); R. W. Stallman, Stephen Crane (1968).


Daniel G. Hoffman, The Poetry of Stephen Crane (1956); Edwin H. Cady, Stephen Crane (1962); Eric Solomon, Stephen Crane in England [1964]; Solomon Stephen Crane: From Parody to Realism (1967).


TLS, Manuscript Division, Syracuse University Library.


After this article was in proof, Bruccoli acquired a "Sixth Edition" that lists third, fourth, fifth, and sixth "editions" for February 1896.


The Stephen Crane Newsletter, I (Spring 1967), 6.


[Joseph Katz], "SC to Mrs. Moreton Frewen: A New Letter," The Stephen Crane Newsletter, I (Spring 1967), 6.


Courtesy of William Cagle, Lilly Library, Indiana University, to whom we are also indebted for Methuen's records for The O'Ruddy.


4 December 1895, ALS, Columbia University Library.


See [Joseph Katz], "The Red Badge of Courage Contract," The Stephen Crane Newsletter, II (Summer 1968), 5-10.


See Joseph Katz, "Towards a Descriptive Bibliography of Stephen Crane: The Black Riders," PBSA, LXIX (1965), 150-157; and Katz, The Poems of Stephen Crane: A Critical Edition (New York, 1966), pp. lv-lxiv.


See Joseph Katz, "Some Light on the Stephen Crane-Amy Leslie Affair," The Mad River Review, I (Winter 1964-1965), 14. The increase applied to Maggie and The Little Regiment.


Both catalogues are owned by Bruccoli.


The authors are indebted to C. E. Frazer Clark, Jr., for the freedom of his collections of American literature.