John Steinbeck

Winner Of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962

Background

John Steinbeck was born February 27th, 1902. He was in a family of six consisting of his parents, and him and his three sisters. He grew up in the town of Salinas, California (" The Salad Bowl of the Nation"). He felt a large sense of place here and began to write short stories about it in the 30's. His book East of Eden (1952) was about his hometown. When he was a teen his father lost his job, tried to run another business, and again failed. The family was in a hard place and their fortune was decreasing. Their fortunes stabilized when he enrolled in college, and Steinbeck's father received a job as the Monterrey county treasurer. Early in his life, John knew he wanted to be a writer and never abandoned his dream.

Writing Career

  • Enrolled in Stanford (1919) - attended college on and off for 6 yrs., but left Stanford (1925) - no degree
  • Went to New York to receive a job- failed- returned to Lake Tahoe - finished Cup of Gold (1929)
  • Married Carol Henning Jan. 14, 1930
  • Had been working on novels and short stores- first became widely known with Tortilla Flat (1935) (humorous stories about Monterrey paisanos)
  • "Novels can be classified as social novels dealing with the economic problems of rural labour"
  • Moved on to more serious fiction, aggressive in social criticism

Popular books include


  1. Dubious Battle (1936)
  2. Of Mice and Men (1937)
  3. The Long Valley (1938)
  4. The Grapes of Wrath (1939)


Later Books To Be Mentioned


  1. East of Eden (1952)
  2. Our Discontent (1961)
  3. Travels with Charley (1962)

"But the crops of any part of this state could not be harvested without these outsiders. I'm pretty mad about it...Funny how mean and little books become in the face of such tradgedy."

Nobel Prize Win (1962)

  • Steinbeck holds his own in the field of literature and especially those who have won the prize before him
  • Was awarded the prize: "for his realistic as well as imaginative writings, distinguished by sympathetic humor and a keen social perception"
  • Defender of human values- one proper idea of a Nobel Prize winner

The Grapes of Wrath


  • Considered to be his best work
  • About Oklahoma tenant farmers who moved to California to find work
  • Held a lot of controversy over how he viewed certain states
  • Both Steinbeck's wrath and optimism are shown
  • Steinbeck faced backlash over his empathy towards the migrant workers in the book
  • Was even banned from some schools and libraries in certain states for a specific period of time
  • Stress and backlash made him fall ill and his marriage fell apart