The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.XI. The Later Novel: Howells
§ 24. Francis Marion Crawford
In the eighties began the career of that later American writer who gave to the novel his most complete allegiance, undeterred by the vogue of briefer narratives or other forms of literature. Francis Marion Crawford, son of the sculptor Thomas Crawford and nephew of Julia Ward Howe, was born at Bagni di Lucca, Tuscany, in 1854. He prepared for college at St. Paul’s School, New Hampshire, and entered Harvard, but soon left it to study in Europe, successively at Cambridge, Heidelberg, and Rome. Having become interested in Sanscrit, and having lost his expectations of a fortune, he went to India and there edited The Indian Herald at Allahabad. In 1881 he returned to America, spent another year upon Sanscrit with Professor Lanman of Harvard, and wrote his first novel, Mr. Isaacs (1882), on the advice of an uncle who had been struck by Crawford’s oral account of the central personage. The success of the experiment was so prompt and complete that its author recognized his vocation once for all, much as does George Wood in The Three Fates (1892), a novel admitted to be partly autobiographical. Crawford went to Italy in 1883, and thereafter spent most of his life at Sorrento. He still travelled, grew wealthy from the sale of his novels, became a Roman Catholic, and died in 1909.