John Steinbeck

Author

  • Salinas, California

John Ernst Steinbeck Jr. (February 27, 1902 to December 20, 1968) was a Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist and the author of Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden. Steinbeck dropped out of college and worked as a manual laborer before achieving success as a writer. His works often dealt with social and economic issues. His 1939 novel, The Grapes of Wrath, about the migration of a family from the Oklahoma Dust Bowl to California, won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. Steinbeck served as a war correspondent during World War II, and he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

Childhood and Family
John Steinbeck was raised with modest means. His father, John Ernst Steinbeck, tried his hand at several different jobs to keep his family fed: He owned a feed-and-grain store, managed a flour plant and served as treasurer of Monterey County. His mother, Olive Hamilton Steinbeck, was a former schoolteacher.

For the most part, Steinbeck — who grew up with three sisters — had a happy childhood. He was shy but smart. He formed an early appreciation for the land, and in particular California's Salinas Valley, which would greatly inform his later writing. According to accounts, Steinbeck decided to become a writer at the age of 14, often locking himself in his bedroom to write poems and stories.

Education
In 1919 Steinbeck enrolled at Stanford University — a decision that had more to do with pleasing his parents than anything else — but the budding writer would prove to have little use for college.

Over the next six years, Steinbeck drifted in and out of school, eventually dropping out for good in 1925, without a degree.

Early Career
Following Stanford, Steinbeck tried to make a go of it as a freelance writer. He briefly moved to New York City, where he found work as a construction worker and a newspaper reporter, but then scurried back to California, where he took a job as a caretaker in Lake Tahoe and began his writing career.

Later Life
During World War II, John Steinbeck served as a war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune.

Around this same time, he traveled to Mexico to collect marine life with friend Edward F. Ricketts, a marine biologist. Their collaboration resulted in the book Sea of Cortez (1941), which describes marine life in the Gulf of California.


Quotes

  • Sectional football games have the glory and the despair of war, and when a Texas team takes the field against a foreign state, it is an army with banners.

  • No one wants advice - only corroboration.

  • It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.

  • A sad soul can kill you quicker than a germ.

  • In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage.

  • Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.

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