Born: 21-07-1899, Garrettsville (Ohio, US)
Died: 27-04-1932, Gulf of Mexico
Harold Hart Crane is known by many as Hart Crane. He was the son of Clarence A. Crane, a businessman who invented the Life Savers, and Grace Edna Hart. His parents divorced when Heart was seventeen years old. He was raised in Portage, Trumbull and Cuyahoga County (Ohio). For a great period of time, Crane was not on speaking terms with this father. His mother was mostly responsible for this. Crane was left in the care of his grandmother.
During the time, the marriage of his parents fell apart, Crane fled into literature and lyric poetry. He did not have many friends, as many condemned the fact that he was homosexual.
The first poem by Crane was written when he was in High School. He did not finish High School but was able to attend a study in New York. At that time, he was working as a reporter on Cleveland for The Plain Dealer. He also worked in a pharmacy. In New York City, he worked as a copywriter.
He was considered to be mentally unstable and was suffering from mood swings. He began to drink and became an alcoholic during the twenties. In spite of his drinking problem, he was able to hold a job. He began to write more poetry and was greatly inspired by Wealth Wittman and Emily Dickinson. He also enjoyed reading the work of T.S. Eliot and Algernon Swinburne. Reading so much from other poems, inspired him. During his life, he published two collections of poems: White Buildings (1926) and The Bridge (1930). The reviews by critics about these collections were downright bad.
With the help of a Guggenheim Fellowship, he was able to visit Mexico in 1931. His drinking intensified and he was suffering from depression. He got company, probably more than a friendship, when Peggy Cowley decided to divorce his friend Malcolm Cowley. She was not able to help Crane dealing with his depression. His last poem, The Broken Tower, was the result of his only heterosexual affair during his life. By then, Crane considered himself and his life a failure.
When travelling from Mexico to New York City, on board the SS. Orizaba, he was beaten up when he made advances to a male member of the ship’s crew. This resulted in a dramatic end to his life. Just before noon on April 27, 1932, Crane jumped off the ship. His body was never recovered. He did not leave a message to those he left behind. Although he had been drinking just before he jumped off, witnesses claimed that this wasn’t an accident. As he jumped off, he supposedly said: “Goodbye, everybody!” There is no real source of evidence for these last words though. As there wasn’t a body to bury, his mother decided to add an extra text to the tombstone of his father at the Park Cemetery in Garrettsville:
“Harold Hart Crane 1899 – 1932 lost at sea.”