John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. was an American writer. He is widely known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath (1939), East of Eden (1952) and the novella 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. He was a leading writer of novels about the working class and was a major spokesman for the victims of the Great Depression.
He was of German American and Irish American descent.
Steinbeck, John Ernst was born on February 27, 1902 in Salinas, California, United States. Son of John Ernst and Olive (Hamilton) Steinbeck.
His father, John Steinbeck, Sr., served as the Monterey County Treasurer while his mother, Olive (Hamilton) Steinbeck, a former school teacher, fostered Steinbeck's love of reading and writing.
Johann Adolf Großsteinbeck, Steinbeck's paternal grandfather, had 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 today named "Großsteinbeck".
Graduate Salinas High School, 1918. Student Stanford University, 1919.
John was good at English, literature and biology at school. He published a school newspaper.
John studied for five years at the university. He published poems and stories in the university magazine "Spectator". Steinbeck didn't get the university diploma.
John worked hard to earn money and did it with pleasure. Steinbeck went on a cruise on board the ship ‘Katrina’ which brought him to New York. There Steinbeck worked as a journalist for some time, took part in the building of a well-known Madison Square Garden – and at the same time continued to write.
In 1926 Steinbeck returned to the west coast and got a place of a caretaker in a manor on the lake Tagus. The first novel of the writer ‘Cup of Gold’ was born there.
In 1928 Steinbeck appeared in San Francisco, where he started dating with Carol Henning.
Soon his parents suggested him to live in their house in Pacific - Grove and provided him with a small allowance. Steinbeck started writing ‘To A God Unknown’. During that time he got acquainted with the scientist Edward Ricketts. Inspiration and plots for such Steinbeck’s new works as: "The Pastures of Heaven", ‘Tortilla Flat’ were taken from reality surrounding him.
The Great depression, poverty and unemployment were raging in the country. This situation was reflected by John Steinbeck in the novel ‘In Dubious Battle’. This book was as successful as ‘Of Mice and Men’ which was published in 1937.
Soon Steinbeck went to Europe. When he returned to the USA in August 1937, he started writing a novel ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ which became one of his best creations.
After the book had been published, Steinbeck went on a trip with Ricketts, the events of which became the basis for the book ‘Sea of Cortez’.
The Second World War was raging hard. Steinbeck joined the committee of writers, wrote ‘Bombs Away’ and "The Moon Is Down", and soon he appeared in Europe as a war correspondent who worked for the New York Herald Tribune.
Steinbeck returned to the United States in autumn 1943. The book ‘Cannery Row’ was published in 1945. He worked for the cinema and theatre and even thought about the creation of his own TV company.
1948 became a difficult year for Steinbeck: his friend Edd Ricketts died, and his wife John Gwyn asked for a divorce.
Nevertheless, Steinbeck wrote a movie script about a revolutionary ‘Viva Zapata!’.
Steinbeck finished the next novel ‘East of Eden’ in February 1952.
In early sixties there were two large writer's works – ‘The Winter of Our Discontent’ and ‘Travels with Charley. In Search of America’. In 1962 the Nobel Prize was awarded to the writer.
The Steinbecks were members of the Episcopal Church.
Steinbeck's contacts with leftist authors, journalists, and labor union figures may have influenced his writing and he joined the League of American Writers, a Communist organization, in 1935.Through Francis Whitaker, a member of the United States Communist Party’s John Reed Club for writers, Steinbeck met with strike organizers from the Cannery and Agricultural Workers' Industrial Union.
League of American Writers
Philosophers & Thinkers
President Lyndon B. Johnson
Collection of biological specimens,marine biology, history, and mythology.
In 1943, after thirteen years of marriage, Steinbeck divorced his first wife, Carol Henning. He married Gwyn Conger that same year, a union which produced Steinbeck's only children, Thomas ("Thom") Myles Steinbeck in 1944 and John Steinbeck IV (Catbird), in 1946. They divorced in 1948. Two years later, Steinbeck married Elaine (Anderson) Scott, the ex-wife of actor Zachary Scott. They would remain married until his death in 1968. She died in 2003 in New York.