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Bishop Jesse Truesdell Peck, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was a great-uncle of author Stephen Crane. Photo courtesy of the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History

Rosalind Franklin was British, though.

Dr. Margaret MeadeVirginia Masters

Book cover photo courtesy of Harvard University Press

Paul Sorrentino's new biography "Stephen Crane: A Life of Fire" was favorably reviewed by the New York Times. Crane, author of "The Red Badge of Courage," came from a deeply Methodist background.

By Sam HodgesSept. 29, 2014 | DALLAS (UMNS)

When young Stephen Crane went to family reunions, he was surrounded by Methodist preachers. At one such event in 1874, 14 of them attended, including his father and maternal grandfather and a great uncle who was a bishop.

Photo courtesy of the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History

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Sorrentino’s new biography “Stephen Crane: A Life of Fire” (Harvard University Press) culminates three decades of research and writing about the author. The book is getting attention, it “skillfully amplifies our knowledge of a singular American artist and his brief, uncompromising life.”

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Crane (1871-1900) would go the other way, smoking, drinking and keeping the company of prostitutes, while creating a groundbreaking body of literature, notably “The Red Badge of Courage” before dying at age 28 of tuberculosis.

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Along with its innovative narrative techniques and color-saturated descriptions, the book offers what many critics consider to be the most penetrating psychological account of the Civil War soldier’s experience a remarkable thing, since Crane was born after the war, and never served in the military.

Photo courtesy of the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History

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With Clint Williamson, who later became the United States ambassador at large for war crimes issues, Ms. Paterson led a team of more than 50 lawyers and investigators who gathered evidence leading to the indictment of Mr. Milosevic, whose role in the bloodshed earned him the sobriquet Butcher of the Balkans.

Though he fled Methodism, the prodigal preacher’s kid couldn’t quite escape its influence.

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In Crane’s last years, they lived together in England, chronically in debt, but enjoying the friendship of the writers Joseph Conrad, H.G. Wells, Ford Maddox Ford and Henry James.

As a boy, Stephen Crane would be given the bishop’s 1858 tract “What Must I Do To Be Saved?”

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Coming to terms with Crane meant coming to terms with late 19th century Methodism. Sorrentino, in a phone interview, laughed big when asked if he had any Methodist background.