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Hart Crane Collection

Identifier: Spec-Coll-00013

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of manuscript letters of Hart Crane, his published works, reviews and critiques of his poetry, biographies of his life including the literary manuscript of Voyager:A Life of Hart Crane, by John Unterecker, microfilm of the Hart Crane Papers held by Columbia University, and the notebooks and paintings of Cranes’ friend, Cleveland artist, William Sommer.


  • 1899 - 1987

Biographical / Historical

American poet Hart Crane was born in Garrettsville, Ohio, on July 21, 1899, the only child of Clarence and Grace Hart Crane. He moved with his family to Cleveland in 1908 and attended Cleveland public schools through the eleventh grade. From a young age Crane declared that he would be a poet and devote his life to literary pursuits. As a teen, Crane began the practice of completely immersing himself in the study of literature to relieve the constant tension created by his parents’ unhappy marriage and subsequent divorce.

In 1916, at the age of 17, Crane left school in Cleveland and moved to New York, ostensibly to prepare for entrance into Columbia University, but in reality to strike out on his own as a poet and writer, and to escape the unhappiness of his family life. From this point on, until his death in 1932, Crane lived in a number of different places including Cleveland, New York, Los Angeles, Isle of Pines, France and Mexico. He supported himself with a variety of writing jobs and publication of his poems, gifts from patrons, allowance from his family and a Guggenheim fellowship. His unstable finances, abuse of alcohol and family emergencies dictated many of these moves but his quest for solitude in which to compose his poems provided motivation as well.

Crane is considered one of the greatest American poets of the early 20th century. His major work, The Bridge, is a mystical synthesis of America which connects the country’s past, present and future. For this poem Crane received the Helen Haire Levinson Prize in 1931. While returning from a Guggenheim fellowship in Mexico in April, 1932, Crane lept to his death from the deck of the S.S. Orziba.


26.71 Linear Feet

Hart Crane collection
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Repository Details

Part of the Kelvin Smith Library Special Collections Repository

Kelvin Smith Library
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland OH 44106-7151 United States