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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]