It’s no secret John Steinbeck is one of my favorite writers. Hell, the blog name Of Whiskey and Words isn’t too far off one of his most popular books Of Mice and Men. East of Eden is my favorite book of all time and I decided recently to reread it. The reread got me thinking about Steinbeck’s other books, short stories, and letters.
John Steinbeck Background
Born on February 27, 1902 in Salinas, California, John Ernst Steinbeck Jr. was brought up with modest means. John Ernst Steinbeck, his father, had several jobs to make ends meet. The senior Steinbeck ran a flour plant, was a Monterey County treasurer, and once owned a feed-and-grain store. Olive Hamilton Steinbeck, his mother, was a former teacher. John Jr. grew up with his three sisters.
Steinbeck was described as a shy but smart kid. At a young age, he fell in love with the land, particularly Salinas Valley, which was often the setting of his novels. He started writing short stories and poems at 14. In 1919, to please his parents more than anything else, Steinbeck enrolled at Stanford University. But for the next six years, he would drift in and out of school. Eventually, in 1925, Steinbeck left college without a degree.
After dropping out, he tried to do freelance work as a writer. He moved to New York for a brief time. He took a job at a construction company while being a newspaper reporter at the same time. Not long after, Steinbeck went back to California and worked as a caretaker for Lake Tahoe.
It was during this period when he wrote his first novel, Cup of Gold, then met and married Carol Henning. She was his first wife. Over the next decade, with the financial and emotional support of Henning, Steinbeck proceeded to work on his writing.
His first couple of books received lukewarm reviews. It was when he published the humorous novel Tortilla Flat in 1935 that Steinbeck achieved real success. Ironically, he adopted a more serious tone for his next books.
In 1939, Steinbeck published The Grapes of Wrath. It told a story of a dispossessed family in Oklahoma who had to relocate to California during the Great Depression. At the height of its popularity, the novel sold over 10,000 copies on a weekly basis. In 1940, Steinbeck received the Pulitzer Prize for that particular work.
On December 20, 1962, at the age of 66, Steinbeck died in New York City.
31 John Steinbeck Quotes to make you think
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
“I wonder how many people I’ve looked at all my life and never seen.”
“All great and precious things are lonely.””
“And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about.”
“I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found.”
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