In 1858, when Crane was twenty, she competed with a number of her friends to see who could write the best novel. The result of the friendly competition was the work that would set Crane upon her distinguished path – the novel Emily Chester. When the novel was completed, it was taken to Messrs. Ticknor & Fields, Boston, by a writer who was a stranger to them. She was told that they could not even entertain the idea of publishing it, as they were overcrowded with previous engagements; but upon her urging the point, she was politely allowed to leave the book for inspection. Within two weeks from that time they sent a contract for its publication, addressed to the "Author of 'Emily Chester; and it was not until Crane returned the paper signed in full that they knew the name of the writer whose novel they had bound themselves to publish. Nevertheless, the first edition was published anonymously. On the title page is a quotation from Goethe, "It is in her monstrosities that Nature discloses to us her secrets."
At the heart of the work was the dilemma of the title character, who married a respectable, if boring, middle class gentleman, and later fell in love with a more dashing man of her community. The fierce moral debate that subsequently raged inside Emily - whether to stay faithful to her husband, or to pursue her passion for her real love - eventually had a deleterious effect on her physical health. A conclusion came about, morbidly, with Emily’s death.
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