Francis Marion Crawford

Francis Marion Crawford


He was born at Bagni di Lucca, Italy, the son of the American sculptor Thomas Crawford and Louisa Cutler Ward, and the nephew of Julia Ward Howe, the American poet. He studied successively at St Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire; Cambridge University; University of Heidelberg; and Rome.

In 1879 he went to India, where he studied Sanskrit and edited the "Allahabad Indian Herald." Returning to America he continued to study Sanskrit at Harvard University for a year, contributed to various periodicals, and in 1882 produced his first novel, "Mr Isaacs," a brilliant sketch of modern Anglo-Indian life mingled with a touch of Oriental mystery. This book had an immediate success, and its author's promise was confirmed by the publication of "Dr Claudius" (1883). After a brief residence in New York and Boston, in 1883 he returned to Italy, where he made his permanent home. This accounts perhaps for the fact that, in spite of his nationality, Marion Crawford's books stand apart from any distinctively American current in literature.

Year by year Crawford published a number of successful novels. He also published the historical works, "Ave Roma Immortalis" (1898), "Rulers of the South" (1900) renamed "Sicily, Calabria and Malta" in 1904, and "Gleanings from Venetian History" (1905). In these his intimate knowledge of local Italian history combines with the romanticist's imaginative faculty to excellent effect.

After most of his fictional works had been published, most came to think he was a gifted narrator, and his books of fiction, full of historic vitality and dramatic characterization, became widely popular among readers to whom the realism of problems or the eccentricities of subjective analysis were repellent. In "The Novel: What It Is" (1893), he defended his literary approach, self-conceived as a combination of romanticism and realism, defining the art form in terms of its marketplace and audience. The novel, he wrote, is "a marketable commodity" and "intellectual artistic luxury" (8, 9) that "must amuse, indeed, but should amuse reasonably, from an intellectual point of view. . . . Its intention is to amuse and please, and certainly not to teach and preach; but in order to amuse well it must be a finely-balanced creation. . . ." (82).

The Saracinesca series is perhaps known to be his best work, with the third in the series, "Don Orsino," set against the background of a real estate bubble, told with effective concision. A fourth book in the series, "Corleone", was the first major treatment of the Mafia in literature, and used the now-familiar but then-original device of a priest unable to testify to a crime because of the Seal of the Confessional; the novel nevertheless failed to live up to the standard set by the books earlier in the series.

Crawford himself was fondest of "", a story of a genie ("genius" is Crawford's word) who becomes human, which was reprinted in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series of the early 1970s. "A Cigarette-maker's Romance" was dramatized, and had considerable popularity on the stage as well as in its novel form; and in "1902" an original play from his pen, "Francesca da Rimini," was produced in Paris by Sarah Bernhardt. Several of his short stories, such as "The Upper Berth" (1886), "For the Blood Is the Life" (1911, a vampire tale) and "The Screaming Skull" (1908), are often-anthologized classics of the horror genre. An essay on Crawford's weird tales can be found in S. T. Joshi's "The Evolution of the Weird Tale" (2004).

Three distinct editions of his collected works -- each printing only his fiction -- appeared during his lifetime. Crawford died at Sorrento in 1909 of a heart attack.



*"Mr. Issacs" (1882)
*"A Roman Singer" (1884)
*"An American Politician" (1884)
*"To Leeward" (1884)
*"Zoroaster" (1885)
*"A Tale of a Lonely Parish" (1886)
*"Marzio's Crucifix" (1887)
*"Saracinesca" (1887)
*"Paul Patoff" (1887)
*"With the Immortals" (1888)
*"Greifenstein" (1889)
*"Sant Ilario" (1889)
*"A Cigarette-makers Romance" (1890)
*"" (1891)
*"The Witch of Prague" (1891)
*"The Three Fates" (1892)
*"The Children of the King" (1892)
*"Don Orsino" (1892)
*"Marion Darche" (1893)
*"Pietro Ghisleri" (1893)
*"Katharine Lauderdale" (1894)
*"Love in Idleness" (1894)
*"The Ralstons" (1894)
*"The Upper Berth" (1894)
*"Casa Braccio" (1895)
*"Adam Johnstons Son" (1895)
*"Taquisara" (1896)
*"A Rose of Yesterday" (1897)
*"Corleone" (1897)
*"Via Crucis" (1899)
*"In the Palace of the King" (1900)
*"Marietta" (1901)
*"Cecilia" (1902)
*"Man Overboard!" (1902)
*"Francesca da Rimini" (1902), traduction de l'américain en français par Marcel Schwob, Sulliver, 1996
*"Whosoever Shall Offend" (1904)
*"Soprano" (1905)
*"A Lady of Rome" (1906)
*"The Little City of Hope" (1907)
*"The Primadonna" (1908)
*"Fair Margaret" (1908)
*"The Diva's Ruby" (1908)
*"The White Sister" (1909)


*"The Novel: What It Is" (1893)
*"Ave Roma Immortalis" (1898)
*"Rulers of the South" (1900, a.k.a. "Sicily, Calabria and Malta", 1904)
*"Gleanings from Venetian History" (1905)


*John Pilkington, Jr. (1964): Francis Marion Crawford, Twayne Publishers Inc. (Library of Congress Catalog Number: 64-20717)
*Maud Howe Elliott (1934): My Cousin, F. Marion Crawford, The Macmillan Company
*John C. Moran (1981): An F. Marion Crawford Companion, Greenwood Press (LC Catalog Num.: 80-1707)
*cite book | last=Bleiler | first=Everett | authorlink=Everett F. Bleiler | title=The Checklist of Fantastic Literature | location=Chicago | publisher=Shasta Publishers | pages=88 | date=1948


*There is a street in the Italian town of Sant'Agnello di Sorrento (the town where he died) named after him.
*One of his daughters become a Nun at the Villa Crawford after it became a Convent
*The F. Marion Crawford Memorial Society was founded in 1975 and can be reached at John C. Moran (Director (until May '08)) Saracinesca House 3610 Meadowbrook Ave. Nashville, TE 37205 (Publishers of 'The Romantist')He is mentioned in Fitzgerald's novel 'Tender is the Night' "Until one o'clock Baby Warren lay in bed, reading one of Marion Crawford's curiously inanimate Roman stories ..."

External links

*gutenberg author|id=Francis_Marion_Crawford|name=Francis Marion CrawfordThe Complete Wandering Ghosts under other works
* [ "The Upper Berth"] Full Text.
* [ "The Upper Berth"] Creative Commons Audio Book.

ee also

*List of horror fiction authors

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