John Steinbeck

By: Michael Butzer and Kareem Moussa


John Steinbeck was an American writer who has written three pulitzer prize winning novels. He is also the winner of the Nobel Prize of Literature in 1962, but however he died in 1968 of a heart disease and heart failure.


Cause: John Steinbeck (1902-1968), born in Salinas, California, came from a family of moderate means. He worked his way through college at Stanford University but never graduated. In 1925 he went to New York, where he tried for a few years to establish himself as a free-lance writer, but he failed and returned to California where he worked as a tour guide and caretaker at a fish hatchery.

Characteristics: During the beginning of the great depression, Steinbeck became a writer. His first novel, Cup of Gold, was written in 1929, which was his "debut" of his writing career. He has a couple of Pulitzer Prize winning novels which include The Grapes of Wraith (1939), East of Eden (1952), and Of Mice and Men (1937). He is the author of twenty-seven books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books, and five collections of short stories. Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize of Literature in 1962.

Significance: Steinbeck was known as the best American writer of his time period. Many of Steinbeck's works are on required reading lists in American high schools. A study by the Center for the Learning and Teaching of Literature in the United States found that Of Mice and Men was one of the ten most frequently read books in public high schools. However, one of his books, The Grapes of Wraith, was banned in some high schools and middle schools, and Steinbeck was one of the top ten most frequently banned authors in the late 90s to early 2000s. Few writers, if any, have better described the miserable conditions endured by so many in the great depression.