John Ernst Steinbeck was an American author, famous for his novels concerning the poor and the oppressed Californian farmers and laborers of the 1930\'s and 1940\'s, who were victimized by industry and finance. His most famous novel, The Grapes of Wrath, won the 1940 Pulitzer Prize. His main themes involved the struggles of the poor and the oppressed to survive in modern society, and the confrontation between man and his destiny.1 Steinbeck wrote 17 novels, numerous short stories, several plays, and some nonfiction . He won the Nobel prize for literature in 1962.2
John Steinbeck was born February 27, 1902, in Salinas, California. Salinas is in a fertile agricultural valley about 25 miles from the Pacific Coast. His childhood was spent in California near Monterey. The Salinas area provided the setting for most of his fiction. He was an intelligent, sensitive boy and spent much time exploring nature.3 His parents were of German and Irish parentage. They were neither rich not poor, but lived a comfortable existence in Salinas.4 His father, John Ernst, a county treasurer, was sympathetic to his son\'s wanting to become a writer.5 His mother, Olive Ernst (nee Hamilton), was a schoolteacher and did much to encourage him to read. He was provided with an extensive library at home1 and spent much of his time reading when he was not outside exploring nature.
All his childhood schooling was in the Salinas area. He graduated from Salinas High School in 1919.2 He had been president of his senior class, active on both the track and basketball teams, and had wrote for the El Gabilan, the Salinas High School paper. 3 After graduation, he attended Stanford University in California. He was a special student from 1919-1925. Steinbeck off and on took courses in literature and courses in writing, but he earned less than half the required credits,4 and did not receive a degree from Stanford. He left school in November of 1925 for New York City. He hoped to become a writer but was he was soon back in California.5
Steinbeck was a very private person and his married life seems sketchy in most profiles. He married Carol Henning in 1930 and they were divorced in 1943. He next married Gwyn Conger, who was a writer, singer, and composer, on March 29, 1943, but they were divorced in 1948. He had two children, Tom and John, in this marriage. He married one more time, this time to Elaine Scott on December 29, 1950. He stayed married til he died on December 20, 1968, in New York City.1
John Steinbeck had a very varied job description by the time he made it as a writer. Constantly doing various odd, occasional jobs to support himself, he managed to be a rancher, road worker, deck hand, cotton picker,2 hod-carrier, fruit-picker, apprentice painter, laboratory assistant, caretaker, surveyor, reporter, and writer. 3 These various odd jobs supplied him with much of the material for his early novels and his observations lent authenticity and realism to the working men and their women in his stories.
Aside from being a writer of books, Steinbeck held other writing jobs during his career as a writer. These writing jobs include that of a Foreign correspondent in North Africa and Italy for the New York Herald Tribune, in 1943. He was also a special writer for the United States Army Air Forces, during World War II. He later became a correspondent in Vietnam for Newday from 1966-1967. Over the years he was also a contributor of numerous short stories, essays, and articles to popular magazines and periodicals. 4
John Steinbeck received many awards, honors and recognition for his work. He received the General Literature Gold Medal from the Commonwealth Club of California three times: in 1936, for Tortilla Flat, in 1937, for Of Mice and Men, and in 1940, for Grapes of Wrath. The New York Drama critics Circle Award was awarded to him in 1938, for the play, "Of Mice and Men". The coveted and prestigious Pulitzer Prize in novel was given to him in 1940, for The Grapes of Wrath. He got Academy Award (Oscar) nominations for best original story, Academy of Motion picture Arts and Sciences in 1944 , for "Lifeboat" and in 1945, for "A Medal for Benny". The Nobel Prize