The bulk of the Clarkson Crane papers consist of published and unpublished novels, short stories and other writings by Crane
who was a lecturer in English literature at the University of California Extension School.
Clarkson Crane (1894-1971) was a writer and Lecturer in English Literature at the University of California Extension School.
He was born in Chicago on September 20, 1894, the only child of Harold Osland Crane and Elizabeth Clarkson Crane. His parents
were from well-to-do Chicago families, and Clarkson was raised in the privileged world of Chicago’s Near North Side. He attended
the Chicago Latin School until his family moved to the Marysville, California area around 1910. Crane graduated from the Thacher
School in Ojai, California the following year. It had always been assumed Clarkson would attend one of the Ivy League universities,
but a financial reversal that severely affected the family fortune prevented him from obtaining that goal. He instead enrolled
in school at the University of California, Berkeley, from which he was graduated in 1916. While at Berkeley he contributed
material to the campus literary publication, The Occident, and worked on the campus humor publication, The Pelican, and the
yearbook Blue and Gold.
In 1917, after a year of writing, Crane joined the United States Army along with several Berkeley friends. He became an ambulance
driver during the war, and took part in the campaigns of Aisne and Champagne in 1918, and was later given the Croix de Guerre
Citation for bravery under fire. He was honorably discharged from the Army at the Presidio in San Francisco in 1919.
Over the next several years Crane continued to write, at his uncle’s home in Carmel, in San Francisco, and in New York. During
this period he had several stories published in The Smart Set and The Dial. In an extended visit to Paris in the mid-1920s,
Crane wrote his first, and most successful novel, The Western Shore. Returning to San Francisco in 1926, he became a Lecturer
in English Literature, and in English Grammar, at the University of California Extension School, and was a night reference
librarian at the Mechanics Library in San Francisco.
In the same year, Crane met a young native Californian, Clyde Evans, through a mutual friend. A romance ensued that turned
into a lifelong relationship. During this period he also met a young lesbian poet named Elsa Gidlow. Elsa and her companion
Tommy (Violet Henry-Anderson) formed a lasting friendship with Crane and Evans. Both lived for a time on Joice Street above
San Francisco’s Chinatown, and Clarkson’s letters to Gidlow (see the Elsa Gidlow Papers, 1991-16) hint at the strength of
this relationship, based in part on their common interest in writing.
Crane wrote nine novels, three of which were published in his lifetime: The Western Shore (1925), Mother and Son (1946), and
Naomi Martin (1947). Mother and Son was translated into French and published as Mère et Fils by Éditions Du Dauphin in 1948.
A paperback edition of Naomi Martin was published as Frisco Gal by Novel Library in 1949. Crane also published over a dozen
stories between 1920 and 1961, and wrote at least a dozen more. Mr. Evans arranged for reprinting of The Western Shore in
Copyright to published and unpublished materials has been transferred to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical