John Steinbeck - Author

About the Author

John Steinbeck is perhaps best known for Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, which led to his Nobel Prize for Literature award in 1962. Born in Salinas, California, in 1902, Steinbeck grew up in a fertile agricultural valley about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast: both valley and coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a labourer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929). After marriage and a move to Pacific Grove, he published two California books, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933) and worked on short stories later collected in The Long Valley (1938).

Popular success and financial security came only with Tortilla Flat (1935), stories about Monterey’s paisanos. A ceaseless experimenter throughout his career, Steinbeck changed courses regularly. Three powerful novels of the late 1930s focused on the California labouring class: In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and the book considered by many his finest, The Grapes of Wrath (1939).

Being partly based on his own experiences as a travelling worker, Steinbeck originally wanted Of Mice and Men to be titled ‘Something That Happened’. The book explores themes of powerlessness, loneliness and empathy and received the greatest positive critical response of any of his works up to that point. It has achieved success as a novel, a Broadway play and three acclaimed films.

Steinbeck’s compassionate depiction of the poor in The Grapes of Wrath helped the book become an immediate publishing phenomenon, discussed on a national scale and becoming an instant bestseller. The book was described by the Nobel Prize committee as a “great work” and stated that it was one of the main reasons for granting Steinbeck the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

Early in the 1940s, Steinbeck became a filmmaker with The Forgotten Village (1941) and a serious student of marine biology with Sea of Cortez (1941). He devoted his services to the war, writing Bombs Away (1942) and the controversial play-novelette The Moon is Down (1942). Cannery Row (1945), The Wayward Bus (1948), another experimental drama, Burning Bright (1950), and The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951) preceded publication of the monumental East of Eden (1952), an ambitious saga of the Salinas Valley and his own family’s history.

The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Later books include: Sweet Thursday (1954), The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957), Once There was a War (1958), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), America and Americans (1966) and the posthumously published Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters (1969), Viva Zapata! (1975), The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976), and Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath (1989).

He died in 1968, having won a Nobel Prize in 1962.

Author Image: John Steinbeck - ©AKG Photo London

Featured books by John Steinbeck

Other books by John Steinbeck

The Red Pony

The Red Pony

Author: John Steinbeck Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/07/2017

'A little masterpiece' New York Times Jody Tiflin is a ten-year-old boy, living on his father's ranch. One day his father brings home a small pony. He's Jody's, if the boy will learn to feed, clean, stable and care for him. But Jody learns, through the colt, and through his other adventures on the ranch, that with responsibility can come sacrifice and pain. Joy may swiftly turn to tragedy. And he also discover that the simplicities of childhood must eventually turn into the complications of adulthood. The Red Pony is Steinbeck's brilliant, and sometimes brutal, celebration of adolescence, with a stunning new cover by renowned artist Bijou Karman.

The Pearl

The Pearl

Author: John Steinbeck Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/07/2017

'In the town they tell the story of the great pearl - how it was found and how it was lost again. They tell of Kino, the fisherman, and of his wife, Juana, and of the baby, Coyotito. And because the story has been told so often, it has taken root in every man's mind.' The Pearl is Steinbeck's heartbreaking short parable about wealth and the darkness and evil it can instill in even the most generous of men's hearts. This edition features a stunning new cover by renowned artist Bijou Karman.

The Pearl

The Pearl

Author: John Steinbeck Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/08/2014

THE PEARL is Steinbeck's flawless parable about wealth and the evil it can bring. When Kino, an Indian pearl-diver, finds 'the Pearl of the world' he believes that his life will be magically transformed. He will marry Juana in church and their little boy, Coyotito, will be able to attend school. Obsessed by his dreams, Kino is blind to the greed, fear and even violence the pearl arouses in him and his neighbours. Haunting and lyrical, THE PEARL sets the values of the civilized world against those of the primitive and finds them tragically inadequate.

Of Mice and Men (without notes)

Of Mice and Men (without notes)

Author: John Steinbeck Format: Hardback Release Date: 25/06/2003

Guys like us, that work on ranches, are the loneliest guys in the world. They got no family. They don't belong no place ...With us it ain't like that.We got a future ... because I got you to look after me and you got me to look after you. George and Lennie are migrant American labourers the one alert and protective and the other strong, stupid and potentially dangerous. This is the powerful story of their relationship and their dreams of finding a more stable and less lonely way of life. This hardback educational edition comes without notes.

The Pearl

The Pearl

Author: John Steinbeck, Gavin Jones Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/09/2000

This is the story of a Mexican Indian pearl diver who found the greatest pearl in the world, but lost his happiness. New Longman Literature: Steinbeck offers a complete study programme for Steinbeck novels. Each text contains a detailed introductory section and notes and activities for each chapter, all written for a range of abilities and designed to develop pupils' knowledge of the text and their skills of analysis. The Programme of Study section contains questions that help students improve their exam technique.

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