Francis Marion Crawford was born on August 2nd, 1854 at Bagni di Lucca, Italy. An only son and a nephew to Julia Ward Howe, the American poet and writer of ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic’.
His education began at St Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire, then to Cambridge University; University of Heidelberg; and the University of Rome.
In 1879 Crawford went to India, to study Sanskrit and then edited The Indian Herald. In 1881 he returned to America to continue his Sanskrit studies at Harvard University.
At this time in Boston he lived at his Aunt Julia house and in the company of his Uncle, Sam Ward. His family was concerned about his employment prospects. After a singing career as a baritone was ruled out, he was encouraged to write.
In December 1882 his first novel, ‘Mr Isaacs’, was an immediate hit which was amplified by ‘Dr Claudius’ in 1883.
In October 1884 he married Elizabeth Berdan. They went on to have two sons and two daughters.
Encouraged by his excellent start to a literary career he returned to Italy with Elizabeth to make a permanent home, principally in Sant' Agnello, where he bought the Villa Renzi that then became Villa Crawford.
In the late 1890s, he began to write his historical works: ‘Ave Roma Immortalis’ (1898), ‘Rulers of the South’ (1900) and ‘Gleanings from Venetian History’ (1905). The Saracinesca series is perhaps his best work. ‘Saracinesca’ was followed by ‘Sant’ Ilario’ in 1889, ‘Don Orsino’ in 1892 and ‘Corleone’ in 1897, that being the first major treatment of the Mafia in literature.
Francis Marion Crawford died at Sorrento on Good Friday 1909 at Villa Crawford of a heart attack.