John Steinbeck
American writer
John Steinbeck
John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. was an American writer. He is widely known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath (1939) and East of Eden (1952) and the novella Of Mice and Men (1937). As the author of twenty-seven books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and five collections of short stories, Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.
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John Steinbeck's personal information overview.
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A touch of paint brings a desert town to life - Los Angeles Times
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Needles earned a certain fame when it was named in John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath." "It was outrageously reasonable, and I think he captured the feel of the small town," said Needles accountant Michael Burger, who hired Louden to liven up his
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Two new books explore the history of SLO County - San Luis Obispo Tribune
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As a child growing up in the Oceano Dunes during the Great Depression, Ella Thorp Ellis rubbed elbows with such notables as Upton Sinclair, John Steinbeck and Edward Weston. Her fascinating memoir details her time spent living among the Dunites at Moy
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Steinbeck: The fury of Hurricane Donna - Newsday (subscription)
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OpEd Newsday > Opinion > OpEd Steinbeck: The fury of Hurricane Donna Published: August 26, 2011 3:25 PM By JOHN STEINBECK Reprinted with the permission of Penguin Classics. In late summer 1960, as John Steinbeck and his poodle were about to leave their
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Farm tours and fresh veggies in California's 'salad bowl' - San Francisco Chronicle
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Most tourists come to the Monterey area for its coastal diversions, but those who visit frequently — or have read John Steinbeck's novels and stories set in what he called "The Valley of the World"— soon catch on: There's a whole other side to the
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Gritty Steinbeck play comes to life - News & Observer
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John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men," a classic of 20th century literature, is a deeply affecting tale of abiding friendship in the face of hopeless circumstances. Steinbeck's theatrical version is similarly moving,
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Steinbeck's Novel a Beautiful Story of Friendship - Patch.com
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Tenth grade students taking English 123 at Lynnfield High School are required to read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, a beautiful tale about friendship set in California during the Great Depression. The novella is one of two books
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APT finds the heart 'Of Mice and Men' - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Spring Green - Although he remains a staple in high school English classes, John Steinbeck has never received the respect he deserves from the literati, who have classified him as a second-rater by ... - -
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Antiques & Collectibles: Vintage magazines offer glimpse of bygone days - Press of Atlantic City
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Woman's Home Companion featured poetry, short stories and serialized fiction by famous authors such as Willa Cather, Edna Ferber, Jack London and John Steinbeck, as well as articles about cooking, housekeeping, fashion trends, home decoration,
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How to keep your old tail wagging - ohmidog!
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You know that I am a not-particularly-buff, not-particularly-health-conscious 57 — about the same age John Steinbeck was when he set off on his trip across America with his poodle, Charley. You may realize, too, that Travels with Ace has been — in
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Oregon hotel connects with Salinas author - The Salinas Californian
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A hotel room in which the spirit of John Steinbeck resides sits not in his hometown of Salinas but along the northern Oregon coastline. There, in Newport, one finds the Sylvia Beach Hotel, built between 1910 and 1913. A bed-and-breakfast inn,
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OF MICE AND MEN by John Steinbeck - Burbank.com News
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Migrant workers George and Lennie pursue the dream of self-sufficient prosperity during the Great Depression in this classic play from author John Steinbeck. George, shouldering the burden of Lennie's simple-minded need to be affectionate at
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Steinbeck's Storehouse - Napa Valley Register
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Opened in 1998, the Steinbeck Center's major attraction is the John Steinbeck Exhibition Hall, which contains artifacts of the author's life and all his literary works. Born in 1902, Steinbeck was class president of Salinas High School, class of 1919
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Steinbeck documentary in works - Variety
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Producer Robert Kanter has acquired the docu rights to John Steinbeck's nonfiction travelogue "The Log From the Sea of Cortez" for an upcoming screen adaptation. Kanter aims to re-create the six-week trip chronicled in the book,
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of John Steinbeck
    OTHER
  • 1968
    John Steinbeck died in New York City on December 20, 1968, of heart disease and congestive heart failure.
    More Details Hide Details He was 66, and had been a lifelong smoker. An autopsy showed nearly complete occlusion of the main coronary arteries. In accordance with his wishes, his body was cremated, and interred on March 4, 1969 at the Hamilton family gravesite in Salinas, with those of his parents and maternal grandparents. His third wife, Elaine, was buried in the plot in 2004. He had written to his doctor that he felt deeply "in his flesh" that he would not survive his physical death, and that the biological end of his life was the final end to it. The day after Steinbeck's death in New York City, reviewer Charles Poore wrote in the New York Times: "John Steinbeck's first great book was his last great book. But Good Lord, what a book that was and is: The Grapes of Wrath." Poore noted a "preachiness" in Steinbeck's work, "as if half his literary inheritance came from the best of Mark Twain— and the other half from the worst of Cotton Mather." But he asserted that "Steinbeck didn't need the Nobel Prize— the Nobel judges needed him."
  • 1967
    In 1967, at the behest of Newsday magazine, Steinbeck went to Vietnam to report on the war.
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  • 1964
    In September 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded Steinbeck Presidential Medal of Freedom.
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  • 1962
    The award of the 1962 Nobel Prize for Literature to Steinbeck was controversial in the United States.
    More Details Hide Details The award citation lauded Steinbeck "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception". Many critics complained that the author's best works were behind him. The New York Times ran an article by Arthur Mizener entitled "Does a Writer with a Moral Vision of the 1930s Deserve the Nobel Prize?" that claimed Steinbeck was undeserving of the prestigious prize as he was a "limited talent" whose works were "watered down by tenth-rate philosophizing". Many American critics now consider these attacks to be politically motivated. The British newspaper The Guardian, in a 2013 article that revealed that Steinbeck had been a compromise choice for the Nobel Prize, called him a "Giant of American Letters". Despite ongoing attacks on his literary reputation, Steinbeck's works continue to sell well and he is widely taught in American and British schools as a bridge to more complex literature. Works such as Of Mice and Men are short and easy to read, and compassionately illustrate universal themes that are still relevant in the 21st century.
    Although the committee believed Steinbeck's best work was behind him by 1962, committee member Anders Österling believed the release of his novel The Winter of Our Discontent showed that "after some signs of slowing down in recent years, has regained his position as a social truth-teller is an authentic realist fully equal to his predecessors Sinclair Lewis and Ernest Hemingway."
    More Details Hide Details Although modest about his own talent as a writer, Steinbeck talked openly of his own admiration of certain writers. In 1953, he wrote that he considered cartoonist Al Capp, creator of the satirical Li'l Abner, "possibly the best writer in the world today." At his own first Nobel Prize press conference he was asked his favorite authors and works and replied: "Hemingway's short stories and nearly everything Faulkner wrote."
    In 1962, Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for literature for his "realistic and imaginative writing, combining as it does sympathetic humor and keen social perception."
    More Details Hide Details The selection was heavily criticized, and described as "one of the Academy's biggest mistakes" in one Swedish newspaper. The reaction of American literary critics was also harsh. The New York Times asked why the Nobel committee gave the award to an author whose "limited talent is, in his best books, watered down by tenth-rate philosophising", noting that "The international character of the award and the weight attached to it raise questions about the mechanics of selection and how close the Nobel committee is to the main currents of American writing. We think it interesting that the laurel was not awarded to a writer... whose significance, influence and sheer body of work had already made a more profound impression on the literature of our age". Steinbeck, when asked on the day of the announcement if he deserved the Nobel, replied: "Frankly, no." Biographer Jackson Benson notes, "This honor was one of the few in the world that one could not buy nor gain by political maneuver. It was precisely because the committee made its judgment... on its own criteria, rather than plugging into 'the main currents of American writing' as defined by the critical establishment, that the award had value." In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and of emulation.
    Apparently taken aback by the critical reception of this novel, and the critical outcry when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962, Steinbeck published no more fiction in the next six years before his death.
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  • 1960
    Travels with Charley: In Search of America is a travelogue of his 1960 road trip with his poodle Charley.
    More Details Hide Details Steinbeck bemoans his lost youth and roots, while dispensing both criticism and praise for America. According to Steinbeck's son Thom, Steinbeck went on the trip, because he knew he was dying and wanted to see the country one last time. Steinbeck's last novel, The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), examines moral decline in America. The protagonist Ethan grows discontented with his own moral decline and that of those around him. The book has a very different tone from Steinbeck's amoral and ecological stance in earlier works like Tortilla Flat and Cannery Row. It was not a critical success. Many reviewers recognized the importance of the novel, but were disappointed that it was not another Grapes of Wrath. In the Nobel Prize presentation speech next year, however, the Swedish Academy cited it most favorably: "Here he attained the same standard which he set in The Grapes of Wrath. Again he holds his position as an independent expounder of the truth with an unbiased instinct for what is genuinely American, be it good or bad."
  • 1952
    In 1952, John Steinbeck appeared as the on-screen narrator of 20th Century Fox's film, O.
    More Details Hide Details Henry's Full House. Although Steinbeck later admitted he was uncomfortable before the camera, he provided interesting introductions to several filmed adaptations of short stories by the legendary writer O. Henry. About the same time, Steinbeck recorded readings of several of his short stories for Columbia Records; the recordings provide a record of Steinbeck's deep, resonant voice. Following the success of Viva Zapata!, Steinbeck collaborated with Kazan on East of Eden, James Dean's film debut.
    In 1952 Steinbeck's longest novel, East of Eden, was published.
    More Details Hide Details According to his third wife, Elaine, he considered it his magnum opus, his greatest novel.
  • 1950
    Steinbeck and Scott eventually began a relationship and in December 1950 Steinbeck and Scott married, within a week of the finalizing of Scott's own divorce from actor Zachary Scott.
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  • 1948
    In 1948, the year the book was published, Steinbeck was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
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    Steinbeck's 1948 book about their experiences, A Russian Journal, was illustrated with Capa's photos.
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  • 1947
    In 1947, Steinbeck made the first of many trips to the Soviet Union, this one with photographer Robert Capa.
    More Details Hide Details They visited Moscow, Kiev, Tbilisi, Batumi and Stalingrad, some of the first Americans to visit many parts of the USSR since the communist revolution.
  • 1944
    In 1944, suffering from homesickness for his Pacific Grove/Monterey life of the 1930s, he wrote Cannery Row (1945), which became so famous that Ocean View Avenue in Monterey, the location of the book, was renamed Cannery Row in 1958.
    More Details Hide Details After the war, he wrote The Pearl (1947), knowing it would be filmed. The story first appeared in the December 1945 issue of Woman's Home Companion magazine as "The Pearl of the World." It was illustrated by John Alan Maxwell. The novel is an imaginative telling of a story which Steinbeck had heard in La Paz in 1940, as related in The Log From the Sea of Cortez, which he described in Chapter 11 as being "so much like a parable that it almost can't be". Steinbeck traveled to Mexico for the filming with Wagner who helped with the script; on this trip he would be inspired by the story of Emiliano Zapata, and subsequently wrote a film script (Viva Zapata!) directed by Elia Kazan and starring Marlon Brando and Anthony Quinn.
  • 1943
    In 1943, Steinbeck served as a World War II war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune and worked with the Office of Strategic Services (predecessor of the CIA).
    More Details Hide Details It was at that time he became friends with Will Lang, Jr. of Time/Life magazine. During the war, Steinbeck accompanied the commando raids of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.'s Beach Jumpers program, which launched small-unit diversion operations against German-held islands in the Mediterranean. At one point, he accompanied Fairbanks on an invasion of an island off the coast of Italy and helped capture Italian and German prisoners, using a Tommy Gun. Some of his writings from this period were incorporated in the documentary Once There Was a War (1958). Steinbeck returned from the war with a number of wounds from shrapnel and some psychological trauma. He treated himself, as ever, by writing. He wrote Alfred Hitchcock's movie, Lifeboat (1944), and the film, A Medal for Benny (1945), with screenwriter Jack Wagner about paisanos from Tortilla Flat going to war. He later requested that his name be removed from the credits of Lifeboat, because he believed the final version of the film had racist undertones.
  • 1942
    In 1942, after his divorce from Carol he married Gwyndolyn "Gwyn" Conger.
    More Details Hide Details With his second wife Steinbeck had two sons, Thomas ("Thom") Myles Steinbeck (1944-2016) and John Steinbeck IV (1946–1991). Ricketts was Steinbeck's model for the character of "Doc" in Cannery Row (1945) and Sweet Thursday (1954), "Friend Ed" in Burning Bright, and characters in In Dubious Battle (1936) and The Grapes of Wrath (1939). Ecological themes recur in Steinbeck's novels of the period.
  • 1941
    Steinbeck's close relations with Ricketts ended in 1941 when Steinbeck moved away from Pacific Grove and divorced his wife Carol.
    More Details Hide Details Ricketts' biographer Eric Enno Tamm notes that, except for East of Eden (1952), Steinbeck's writing declined after Ricketts' untimely death in 1948. Steinbeck's novel The Moon Is Down (1942), about the Socrates-inspired spirit of resistance in an occupied village in Northern Europe, was made into a film almost immediately. It was presumed that the unnamed country of the novel was Norway and the occupiers the Nazis. In 1945, Steinbeck received the Haakon VII Cross of freedom for his literary contributions to the Norwegian resistance movement.
    Although Carol accompanied Steinbeck on the trip, their marriage was beginning to suffer, and ended a year later, in 1941, even as Steinbeck worked on the manuscript for the book.
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  • 1933
    In 1933 Steinbeck published The Red Pony, a 100-page, four-chapter story weaving in memories of Steinbeck's childhood.
    More Details Hide Details To a God Unknown, named after a Vedic hymn, follows the life of a homesteader and his family in California, depicting a character with a primal and pagan worship of the land he works. Although he had not achieved the status of a well-known writer, he never doubted that he would achieve greatness. Steinbeck achieved his first critical success with Tortilla Flat (1935), a novel set in post-war Monterey, California, that won the California Commonwealth Club's Gold Medal. It portrays the adventures of a group of classless and usually homeless young men in Monterey after World War I, just before U.S. prohibition. They are portrayed in ironic comparison to mythic knights on a quest and reject nearly all the standard mores of American society in enjoyment of a dissolute life centered around wine, lust, camaraderie and petty theft. In presenting the 1962 Nobel Prize to Steinbeck, the Swedish Academy cited "spicy and comic tales about a gang of paisanos, asocial individuals who, in their wild revels, are almost caricatures of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table. It has been said that in the United States this book came as a welcome antidote to the gloom of the then prevailing depression." Tortilla Flat was adapted as a 1942 film of the same name, starring Spencer Tracy, Hedy Lamarr and John Garfield, a friend of Steinbeck. With some of the proceeds, he built a summer ranch-home in Los Gatos.
  • 1930
    Between 1930 and 1933, Steinbeck produced three shorter works.
    More Details Hide Details The Pastures of Heaven, published in 1932, consists of twelve interconnected stories about a valley near Monterey, which was discovered by a Spanish corporal while chasing runaway Indian slaves.
    Between 1930 and 1936, Steinbeck and Ricketts became close friends.
    More Details Hide Details Steinbeck's wife began working at the lab as secretary-bookkeeper. Steinbeck helped on an informal basis. They formed a common bond based on their love of music and art, and John learned biology and Ricketts' ecological philosophy. When Steinbeck became emotionally upset, Ricketts sometimes played music for him. Steinbeck's first novel, Cup of Gold, published in 1929, is loosely based on the life and death of privateer Henry Morgan. It centers on Morgan's assault and sacking of the city of Panama, sometimes referred to as the 'Cup of Gold', and on the women, fairer than the sun, who were said to be found there.
    In 1930, Steinbeck met the marine biologist Ed Ricketts, who became a close friend and mentor to Steinbeck during the following decade, teaching him a great deal about philosophy and biology.
    More Details Hide Details Ricketts, usually very quiet, yet likable, with an inner self-sufficiency and an encyclopedic knowledge of diverse subjects, became a focus of Steinbeck's attention. Ricketts had taken a college class from Warder Clyde Allee, a biologist and ecological theorist, who would go on to write a classic early textbook on ecology. Ricketts became a proponent of ecological thinking, in which man was only one part of a great chain of being, caught in a web of life too large for him to control or understand. Meanwhile, Ricketts operated a biological lab on the coast of Monterey, selling biological samples of small animals, fish, rays, starfish, turtles, and other marine forms to schools and colleges.
    They married in January 1930 in Los Angeles, where, with friends, he attempted to make money by manufacturing plaster mannequins.
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  • 1928
    The elder Steinbecks gave John free housing, paper for his manuscripts, and from 1928, loans that allowed him to write without looking for work.
    More Details Hide Details During the Great Depression, Steinbeck bought a small boat, and later claimed that he was able to live on the fish and crab that he gathered from the sea, and fresh vegetables from his garden and local farms. When those sources failed, Steinbeck and his wife accepted welfare, and on rare occasions, stole bacon from the local produce market. Whatever food they had, they shared with their friends. Carol became the model for Mary Talbot in Steinbeck's novel Cannery Row.
    When he failed to publish his work, he returned to California and worked in 1928 as a tour guide and caretaker at Lake Tahoe, where he met Carol Henning, his first wife.
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  • 1919
    Steinbeck graduated from Salinas High School in 1919 and went on to study English Literature at Stanford University near Palo Alto, leaving, without a degree, in 1925.
    More Details Hide Details He travelled to New York City where he took odd jobs while trying to write.
  • 1902
    Steinbeck was born on February 27, 1902, in Salinas, California.
    More Details Hide Details He was of German, English, and Irish descent. Johann Adolf Großsteinbeck (1828–1913), Steinbeck's paternal grandfather, shortened the family name to Steinbeck when he immigrated to the United States. The family farm in Heiligenhaus, Mettmann, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, is still named "Großsteinbeck." His father, John Ernst Steinbeck (1862–1935), served as Monterey County treasurer. John's mother, Olive Hamilton (1867–1934), a former school teacher, shared Steinbeck's passion for reading and writing. The Steinbecks were members of the Episcopal Church, although Steinbeck later became agnostic. Steinbeck lived in a small rural town, no more than a frontier settlement, set in some of the world's most fertile land. He spent his summers working on nearby ranches and later with migrant workers on Spreckels sugar beet farms. There he learned of the harsher aspects of the migrant life and the darker side of human nature, which supplied him with material expressed in such works as Of Mice and Men. He explored his surroundings, walking across local forests, fields, and farms. While working at Spreckels Sugar Company, he sometimes worked in their laboratory, which gave him time to write. He had considerable mechanical aptitude and fondness for repairing things he owned.
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