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THE LONDON NEWSLETTERS OF STEPHEN AND CORA CRANE: A COLLABORATION Lillian Barnard Gilkes* In October of 1897 Stephen Crane wrote to Paul Revere Reynolds from England proposing a series of articles for New York papers which had paid him well in the past: the Herald, the World, and the Journal. Then, as an alternative to "fooling with the big newspapers," he suggested in the same letter another scheme: Reynolds should go to Curtis Brown, Sunday editor of the New York Press, and say to him"in the strictest confidence, that a lady named Imogene Carter whosework he had been using from time to time is also named Stephen Crane, and that I did 'em in about twenty minutes on each Sunday just dictating to a friend." Those pieces were "rotten bad," but the new series would be much better in style. "Then if he says aU right you might turn up a little syndicate for every Sunday." Crane counted on about £10 per week from sixty-five per cent of the take, thirty-five going to Reynolds.1 But nothing came of either of these schemes. After completing the Westminster Gazette articles on Turkey and the Eastern Question, followed by "London Impressions" and the "Irish Notes," Crane abandoned journafism to write short stories for "quick money." The great stories poured from him at top speed: "Death and the Child,""The Monster," "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky," "The Blue Hotel." It was an astonishing output at the height of his creative powers. Meanwhile, the "rotten bad" pieces were already undergoing some sort of syndication, presumably through Curtis Brown. Whose idea the Newsletter series was is not known. Hard up for cash as the Cranes were on arrival in England, it might have been Cora who saw rescue in exploiting for popular consumption her considerable knowledge of women's fashions. As Mrs. Donald Stewart ("Lady Stewart" to some) she had come by much of her wardrobe in the Paris shops, the great couturier establishments. She knew the difference between "dress" and "clothes." Her shrewd sense of what the average American housewife, more and more a reader of newspapers at the turn of the century, liked to hearabout must also havepersuadedherthat the •Lillian Gilkes has long been an authority on Stephen and Cora Crane. Among her numerous publications are Cora Crane and Stephen Crane: Letters, edited with R. W. Stallman. She is currently working on a book on Park Benjamin. 174Lillian Barnard Gilkes doings of the aristocracy and visiting royalty was surefire stuff for the gossip columns. Crane withheld his name, disassociating himself from these potboiler pieces for which he had felt it necessary to apologize to Reynolds. Cora's preserved manuscripts are signed with her byhne "Imogene Carter," but the articles appeared in the New York Press, the prime distributor, with only a general identification: "From a Special Correspondent of the Press." Though not great literature, these London Newsletters are of considerable interest in the Crane story, biographically as weU as bibliographically, for they shed important Ught on Crane's mental and emotional states during what was probably the most troubled period of his conflict-ridden Ufe, the Oxted residence. Despite the constant burden of debts, and contrary to much that has been written, tensions relaxed when they got to Brede Place. There in the companionship of his horses and his dogs, of Cora and a selective group of literary friends and neighbors, Crane spent one of the happiest years of his adult life. But the Oxted period, from which these letters come, is a different story. The articles also mark the beginning of what was actuaUy a collaboration between Crane and the woman he took to live with him as his wife. Generally thought to have begun no earlier than Brede Place, their working association commencing with the Newsletters later saw Cora taking over more and more of the secretarial duties of typing and business correspondence, and ended only with Stephen's death and her publication of the manuscripts he left. In this respect, the Newsletters fill in and round out the picture given of the Cora relationship to date, thus adding another chapter to the Crane story. The discovery...


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