John Steinbeck - History

John Steinbeck - History


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John Steinbeck

1902- 1968

Novelist

Steinberg his son and President Johnson

John Steinbeck was on February 27, 1902 in Salinas California. He went to Salinas High School and then went to Stanford University but did not graduate. He went to New York to write but after failing to be published he returned to California and worked as a tour guide. Steinbeck’s first book was Cup of Gold published in 1929.

John Steinbeck is known for his evocative stories about rural workers and especially for his epic saga set during the Great Depression, The Grapes of Wrath (1939). A Nobel Prize winner for literature (1962), Steinbeck's works include Of Mice and Men (1937), Cannery Row (1945) and East of Eden (1954). Steinbeck collaborated with George S. Kaufman in adapting Of Mice and Men for the Broadway stage.

Books

Steinbeck: A Life in Letters

John Steinbeck, Writer: A Biography


The Moon Is Down

The Moon Is Down is a novel by American writer John Steinbeck. Fashioned for adaptation for the theatre and for which Steinbeck received the Norwegian King Haakon VII Freedom Cross, it was published by Viking Press in March 1942. The story tells of the military occupation of a small town in Northern Europe by the army of an unnamed nation at war with England and Russia (much like the occupation of Norway by the Germans during World War II). A French language translation of the book was published illegally in Nazi-occupied France by Les Éditions de Minuit, a French Resistance publishing house. [1] Furthermore, numerous other editions were also secretly published across all of occupied Europe, including Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, and Italian versions (as well as a Swedish version) it was the best known work of U.S. literature in the Soviet Union during the war. [1] Although the text never names the occupying force as German, references to "The Leader", "Memories of defeats in Belgium and France 20 years ago" clearly suggest it. Written with the purpose of motivating resistance movements in occupied countries, the book has appeared in at least 92 editions across the world. [1]


John Steinbeck, Bard of the American Worker (Review)

John Steinbeck (1902-68) might well be one of those once-popular authors whose names we recognize but whom no one reads beyond junior high. Still, his affecting novels about besieged migrant workers and itinerant day laborers may come back into vogue now that the country, if not the world, faces an economic crisis whose proportions have already been compared to, and may far outdistance, those of the Great Depression.

Certainly William Souder, in &ldquoMad at the World,&rdquo his admiring new biography, believes Steinbeck should get another, sympathetic look. Hailing him as a &ldquomajor figure in American literature,&rdquo Souder further claims Steinbeck has &ldquogiven the world several books that would last forever.&rdquo Of course, forever is a very long time, more than Steinbeck himself thought he merited. When asked if he deserved the Nobel Prize he was awarded in 1962, Steinbeck modestly replied, &ldquoFrankly, no.&rdquo

To Souder, the author of a fine biography of John James Audubon, Steinbeck was &ldquosimply being his angry, contrarian self.&rdquo As he frames it, anger was the novelist&rsquos full-throated response to injustice, and it &ldquohad driven him to greatness.&rdquo

Yet to the reader Steinbeck seems less angry than shy, driven and occasionally cruel &mdash an insecure, talented and largely uninteresting man who blunted those insecurities by writing. &ldquoI work because I know it gives me pleasure to work,&rdquo Steinbeck once said. Not much else seemed to do that, except maybe booze.

Steinbeck kept writing. &ldquoThe clock is running down,&rdquo he said at just 39. Maniacally, he counted the number of words he produced each day. &ldquoLife was leaking out of him,&rdquo Souder rhapsodizes, &ldquoslipping away into the oblivion waiting for him in death.&rdquo

Perhaps but after The San Francisco News assigned Steinbeck to write a series about the pathetic living conditions of the Dust Bowl refugees in California&rsquos San Joaquin Valley, he actively began &ldquoThe Grapes of Wrath,&rdquo his touching 1939 novel about the hegira of these Oklahoma sharecroppers. The Joad family is a single, self-protective biological collective, with Ma Joad at its nurturing center: &ldquoIt&rsquos all one flow,&rdquo she says. &ldquoWoman looks at it like that. We ain&rsquot gonna die out.&rdquo With these stereotypes in place, Steinbeck&rsquos characters remain remote specimens &mdash as the critic Alfred Kazin put it, they stay &ldquoon the verge of becoming human, but never do.&rdquo Yet, immediate and concrete and written more out of sorrow &mdash and hope &mdash than anger, the novel became an anthem of the Depression. &ldquoSteinbeck&rsquos writing had merged with history,&rdquo Souder enthusiastically declares.


The Steinbeck House

This Queen Anne style Victorian was the birthplace and boyhood home of author John Steinbeck. Built in Salinas in 1897, the Steinbeck family moved into the house in 1900.

The Valley Guild was formed by eight enthusiastic women who shared a common interest in gourmet cooking and wanted to showcase Salinas Valley produce. The volunteers of Valley Guild purchased and renovated the house. It was opened to the public as a restaurant on February 27, 1974 —the 72nd anniversary of John Steinbeck’s birth. The house is operated by volunteers with a minimum of paid staff, and recently celebrated its 42nd Anniversary.

Oprah Winfrey and members of her book club visited the Steinbeck House in September of 2003. Her show was filmed on the front lawn of the House.

In April of 1995, E. Clampus Vitus designated the house as a literary landmark.

In August of 2000, the house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Many Steinbeck family pictures and memorabilia decorate the walls.

Mission Statement

The specific and primary purpose of Valley Guild is to maintain and preserve the John Steinbeck House. The Valley Guild is a non-profit, volunteer organization which has owned and operated The House since 1972. Their purpose is to maintain and preserve The Steinbeck House for future generations of Steinbeck readers. The Steinbeck House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Your gratuities are greatly appreciated. They are used solely to maintain the House.


John Steinbeck biography

John Steinbeck (1902 – 1968) was an American writer best known for his novels about the social consequences of the Great Depression in America. His most famous works include Of Mice and Men (1937), The Grapes of Wrath (1939) and East of Eden (1952). He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

“The writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man’s proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit—for gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and of emulation.”

—Steinbeck, Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech 1962

John Steinbeck Short Biography

John Steinbeck was born on 27th February 1902 in Salinas, California. His family were descendants of German immigrants and lived in a small rural town. Steinbeck had a comfortable but modest upbringing. In the summer, he spent his time working on the nearby ranches to help with the harvest and earn money. His work on the farms gave him an insight into the life of migrant workers, and his experiences would later provide material for his greatest works.

Steinbeck studied at Salinas High school, and then went to Stanford University in Palo Alto. Despite staying there for five years, he left without a degree. In 1925, he left university and sought to establish himself as a writer in New York. However, he was unable to make a career for himself and he was forced to support himself doing odd jobs. In 1928, discouraged, Steinbeck returned to California where he got a job as a caretaker in Tahoe city. Despite working full time, in 1929, he was able to get his first novel, Cup of Gold, published.

However, after a few years, Steinbeck received some financial support from his father, this allowed him to give up his full-time job. Steinbeck was able to devote more time to writing from his father’s cottage in Pacific Grove, Monterey, California. He also married Carol Henning in 1930.

In 1935, the novel ‘Tortilla Flat‘ was published to critical acclaim. The novel was set in Monterey after World War One and portrays a bunch of homeless and classless men who reject the social mores of society. This novel was his first major breakthrough and gave him the financial income and confidence to pursue writing other novels.

This period led to some of his most productive writing years. In particular, his short book ‘Of Mice and Men‘ (1939)and the epic novel – The Grapes of Wrath (1939) established his reputation as one of the pre-eminent modern American writers.

Of Mice and Men was a short story about two migrant workers, George Milton and the mentally retarded Lennie Small who seek employment during the Great Depression. The Grapes of Wrath is a deeper discussion of the social, economic and cultural implications of the Great Depression. It focuses on a family of poor tenant farmers and their difficulties during the Great Depression it offers a sympathetic account of migrant workers and is critical of capitalism. The Grapes of Wrath became the best selling book of 1939, and it led to Steinbeck being awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Both books captured the despair and personal cost of the Great Depression, and have become a classic literary account of this period. As well as the social implications, Steinbeck also captured a poignant reference to a mystical element of American farming land. The tragedy of the Great Depression heightened the missed opportunities to enable the American dream of cultivating the most fertile soil of the country.

Steinbeck’s subtle political commentary was also controversial. The book, The Grapes of Wrath, was banned by the Kern County board of supervisors from 1939-41. Steinbeck was an active supporter of the FDR’s Liberal New Deal and had strong contacts with left-wing writers and labour union figures. In 1967, he went to Vietnam and wrote strongly in support of the war, which many felt was compromising his earlier liberal ideas. Steinbeck complained of government harassment because of his political views, arguing J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI encouraged the tax authorities to harass him.

In 1942, he divorced his first wife and remarried, Gwendolyn Conger, they had one child – John Steinbeck IV. During the Second World War, Steinbeck wrote a novel inspired by the spirit of resistance to German occupation – The Moon is Down (1942). He also served as a war correspondent he saw action in the Mediterranean and North Africa. In 1944, he was wounded after a munitions explosion and returned home.

After the war, he visited the Soviet Union with renowned photographer, Robert Capa. He published his experiences in ‘A Russian Journal‘ it was a rare American insight into post-revolutionary Russia.

In 1948, Steinbeck experienced a period of mental depression after a close friend, Ed Ricketts died in a motor accident, and his second wife insisted on divorce shortly after. Ricketts had encouraged much of Steinbeck’s writing during his most productive period in the late 1930s.

Steinbeck remarried for the third time in 1950. In 1952, he wrote his last great masterpiece, East of Eden

“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.”

— John Steinbeck, East of Eden

In 1962, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Nobel Committee cited his great works Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath and a recent novel ‘The Winter of Our Discontent‘. Steinbeck was typically modest, questioning whether he really deserved it.

After 1962, he didn’t write any more novels until his death in 1968.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Biography of John Steinbeck”, Oxford, UK www.biographyonline.net , 22 January 2013. Last updated 8 February 2019.

The short novels of John Steinbeck

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Murder at Full Moon: John Steinbeck Wrote a Werewolf Mystery That No One Wanted to Publish—Until Now

If history had gone a bit differently, John Steinbeck might have been counted right alongside Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley as one of literature's great horror writers. One of the author's early works was a werewolf mystery novel titled Murder at Full Moon. The book was never published, and now fans are petitioning for its posthumous release, The Guardian reports.

Steinbeck was a struggling writer when he penned Murder at Full Moon. Publishers rejected the story in 1930, about a decade before his American classic The Grapes of Wrath hit shelves. The 233-page unpublished manuscript now sits in the archives of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin.

The novel focuses on a California town terrorized by a string of murders that only occur during the full moon. Investigators suspect a supernatural being is responsible for the grisly deaths. As the story unfolds, a reporter, an amateur detective, and the manager of a local gun club get caught up in the mystery.

Professor Gavin Jones—who specializes in American literature at Stanford University—and Steinbeck biographer William Souder are among those in the literary community asking for the book to be published posthumously. Though there's plenty of interest in an unpublished werewolf story from the famous realist, fans will likely be waiting a while to read it. Steinbeck’s literary agents, McIntosh & Otis, told the Observer: "As Steinbeck wrote Murder at Full Moon under a pseudonym and did not choose to publish the work during his lifetime, we uphold what Steinbeck had wanted."

Murder at Full Moon is far from the only story Steinbeck didn't have published during his lifetime. In 1958, the author started a book based on King Arthur called The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights, but he abandoned the project in 1959. The unfinished work would eventually be published in 1976, eight years after Steinbeck passed away. Here are more facts about the author.

For more fascinating facts and stories about your favorite authors and their works, check out Mental Floss's new book, The Curious Reader: A Literary Miscellany of Novels and Novelists, out May 25!


John Steinbeck Timeline

In doing research for Steinbeck Citizen Spy , it became quickly apparent that comparing Steinbeck’s travels and associations with government documentation might help me decipher Steinbeck’s dual life. I did not know what tidbits would be pertinent as I came across events in John’s life, so I compiled as detailed a timeline as possible. The majority of entries have a corresponding reference to aid in returning to material that seemed promising. References to each event can be found in the Timeline Appendix of Steinbeck Citizen Spy .

The main source for referenced events in this timeline is Steinbeck: A Life in Letters . One has to assume that Steinbeck’s own record is the most accurate available. Where an exact date for an event is in question, I have attempted to note the estimation and why the estimation was made. I’ve also taken the liberty of including major world events into this timeline to place Steinbeck’s life in proper historical context.

If you are trying to find a specific event or work of Steinbeck's in this timeline, it may be of use to use the find function of your internet browser. To access this function, hold the control and "f" buttons down on your keyboard and then type your search term. If you would rather view this timeline in a PDF format with sources, please click here.

February 27: John Ernst Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California. He was the third of four children and the only son of John Ernst II and Olive Hamilton Steinbeck.

1915–19

Steinbeck attends Salinas High School.

Summer: Steinbeck works at the Post Ranch and tracks the Big Sur Bear.

1919–25

John Steinbeck attends classes at Stanford University, leaving without a degree. During these years, Steinbeck drops out for several months, and is employed intermittently as a sales clerk, farm laborer, ranch hand, and factory worker.

Steinbeck joins the Order of DeMolay.

November: Steinbeck travels by freighter from Los Angeles to New York City.

December: Steinbeck arrives in New York and gets a job on a Madison Square Garden construction crew. The job lasts six weeks and he quits after a nearby worker is killed falling off a scaffolding.

January: Steinbeck gets a job as a reporter for the New York American .

Summer to Winter: Lives in Lake Tahoe, California, and works as a caretaker for a summer home.

January 18: Steinbeck applies for admission to Salinas Masonic Lodge #204.

May 24: Steinbeck achieves the degree of Master Mason at Salinas Lodge.

August: John’s first novel, Cup of Gold ,is published.

October 29: Wall Street’s “Black Tuesday” crash signals the beginning of the Great Depression.

January 14: John marries Carol Henning.

October: Steinbeck meets Edward F. Ricketts.

Mythologist and author Joseph Campbell comes to Monterey and meets Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts.

March: Carol gets a job working at Ed Ricketts’ lab.

June: Carol Steinbeck and Joseph Campbell have an affair that is broken off by mutual consent. Campbell and Ed Ricketts also go to Alaska for a specimen-hunting trip.

October: The Pastures of Heaven is published.

February 11: Steinbeck sends To a God Unknown to his literary agents.

September: To a God Unknown is published.

February 19: Steinbeck’s mother dies.

March: Steinbeck accompanies Ed Ricketts on a specimen-hunting trip at Laguna Beach.

May: Steinbeck starts gathering information on farm labor unions in the Salinas area.

February 5: Steinbeck completes the manuscript for In Dubious Battle .

May: Steinbeck’s father dies.

May 28: Tortilla Flat is published.

September: John and Carol travel to Mexico for a vacation and to escape the media attention Tortilla Flat has generated.

October: Still in Mexico, John receives a telegram that Paramount Pictures has purchased the film rights to Tortilla Flat .

January (Early): John and Carol travel from Mexico to New York to sign the Tortilla Flat film deal and then return to California.

April (Mid): Steinbeck begins work on Of Mice and Men (originally titled Something That Happened ).

May 11: Steinbeck purchases land in Los Gatos, California.

June 11: The California Literature Gold Medal is awarded to Steinbeck for Tortilla Flat .

October: In Dubious Battle is published.

October 5–12: John’s series of articles about the migrant worker problem are published in the San Francisco News .

November 13: John attends the Western Writer’s Conference in San Francisco.

November 25: Ed Rickett’s lab in Cannery Row burns to the ground.

December: Saint Katy the Virgin is published.

February 6: Of Mice and Men is published.

March 23: Steinbeck and Carol set sail for Philadelphia from California.

April 15: Steinbeck and Carol arrive in Philadelphia and later take a train to New York. There they attend a dinner honoring Thomas Mann.

May (Late): The Steinbecks sail from New York to Sweden.

July: John and Carol travel from Sweden to Finland and then to the Russia.

August 13: The Steinbecks arrive in New York from Sandviken on the Toledo.

September: The Red Pony is published.

October: “The Chrysanthemums” is published in Harper’s Magazine .

October (Mid): Steinbeck visits the migrant worker camps in Los Gatos.

November 23: The stage version of Of Mice and Men opens in New York’s Music Box Theater. The play runs through May 1938 (207 performances).

January 12: The stage version of Tortilla Flat opens at New York’s Henry Miller’s Theatre for five performances.

February (Mid): Steinbeck spends ten days at migrant worker camps in Visalia with Tom Collins.

April: “Their Blood Is Strong,” a nonfiction account of the migrant labor problem in California, is published by the Simon J. Lubin Society.

April 15: “Starvation under the Orange Trees,” is published by the Monterey Trader .

May: Steinbeck receives the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for the play Of Mice and Men .

June 14: Steinbeck telegrams Eleanor Roosevelt that the Congressional Appropriations Committee failed to provide funds for the US Film Service. The lack of funding halted the efforts of Pare Lorentz and other filmmakers.

September: The short-story collection, The Long Valley , is published. This edition includes the story “The Red Pony.”

October (Late): Steinbeck finishes The Grapes of Wrath manuscript.

October 25: American Legion investigator Harper Knowles testifies before the Dies Commission that Steinbeck has Communist ties.

November 8: John’s wife Carol registers with the Communist Party in Santa Clara County.

February 2: Steinbeck telegrams the Committee to Aid Agricultural Organizations to “portest (sic) any curtailment of the FSA Camp and relief program.”

February 9: Steinbeck sends a telegram to President Roosevelt urging the passage of a bill to extend the LaFollette Civil Liberties Committee.

April 5: Steinbeck’s editor,Pat Covici, sends a copy of The Grapes of Wrath to President Roosevelt.

April 14: The Grapes of Wrath is published.

Summer: John and Carol tour the Pacific Northwest.

September (Mid): John and Carol travel to Chicago to visit Joe Hamilton, Pare Lorentz, and Paul de Kruief.

December 15: Steinbeck travels to Los Angeles to view the screener copies of The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men .

December (Late): John urges Carol to get an abortion after finding out she is pregnant. Carol does and develops an infection that leads to a hysterectomy.

December 30: Film Of Mice and Men is released in the United States.

January 24: Film version of The Grapes of Wrath premiers in New York.

March 11–April 20: John conducts a marine expedition in the Gulf of California with Ed Ricketts.

March 15: Film version of The Grapes of Wrath opens in the United States.

March 22: Steinbeck is in La Paz, Mexico.

March 27: Steinbeck is in Loreto, Mexico.

April 5: Steinbeck is in Guaymas, Mexico.

April 22: Steinbeck returns home to Los Gatos. (Date estimated by Steinbeck in an April 6th letter to the staff at McIntosh-Otis).

May: The Grapes of Wrath receives the National Book Award.

May 6: The Grapes of Wrath wins the Pulitzer Prize.

May 22: John and Carol attend a party in Hollywood thrown by Lewis Milestone. Known to have attended the party are Gwyndolyn Conger, Charlie Chaplin, Vladimir Horowitz, and Max Wagner.

May 23: Steinbeck travels to Mexico City to work on the film script for The Forgotten Village .

May 24: An assassination attempt is made on Leon Trotsky in Mexico City.

June (Early): Ed Ricketts joins Steinbeck in Mexico City.

June 14 or June 22: Steinbeck sends a report of his findings in Mexico to his uncle Joe Hamilton. (See chapter 4 for explanation of date discrepancy.)

June 22: Steinbeck travels to Washington, D.C.

June 24: Steinbeck’s letter about an Axis threat in Mexico is received by President Roosevelt. Also the same day, an FBI memo was issued to create the FBI’s Special Intelligence Service to operate in Latin America.

June 26: Steinbeck meets with FDR and presents a plan of print and radio propaganda in Latin America.

July–August: John takes sporadic flying lessons at the Palo Alto airport.

August 13: John writes to FDR about flooding Germany with counterfeit Deutsche Marks in an effort to collapse the Nazis’ economy.

August 16: The Office for Coordination of Commercial and Cultural Relations between the American Republics was started by FDR with Nelson Rockefeller at the helm. The Agency would formally be chartered and renamed as the Office of Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs in July 1941.

September 12: Steinbeck meets once again with FDR to discuss Steinbeck’s plan to sabotage the German economy.

September 14–27: John leaves Washington for New York and returns to California on the 27th.

October (Mid): Steinbeck returns to Mexico to continue work on The Forgotten Village .

November (Third week): John returns to the USA and meets Gwyn Conger in Hollywood.

December 13: Steinbeck writes a letter to the Mexican Ambassador, Josephus Daniels, giving Daniels praise. The letter is forwarded to Archibald MacLeish of the Library of Congress and then to FDR.

January 1: Steinbeck and Carol have the flu at the Los Gatos ranch house.

February 7: Carol leaves for a vacation to Hawaii.

March: Mavis McIntosh visits Steinbeck in California.

April (Late): Steinbeck separates from Carol.

May: The book version of The Forgotten Village is published.

July 11: Colonel William Donovan’s “Memorandum of Establishment of Service of Strategic Information” results in President Roosevelt establishing the Office of the Coordinator of Information. Donovan is assigned as the “Coordinator of Information” of the intelligence agency.

July 30: Office of Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs is officially sanctioned by Executive Order 8840.

September (Early): Steinbeck works on the script for the film version of The Red Pony in California.

September (Late): John moves to New York City with singer Gwyn Conger.

October 7–8: Steinbeck goes to Washington, D.C., to attend a conference with the Foreign Information Service (FIS), after which, John begins writing material for the FIS.

November: Steinbeck begins work on The Moon Is Down.

November (Mid): John rents a two-bedroom apartment in a residential hotel in Manhattan.

November 18: The Forgotten Village documentary is released in the USA.

November 25: Steinbeck mentions in a letter to Toby Street that he “may have to go to Washington to do some work in about a week.” (A citation with this letter in Steinbeck: A Life in Letters mentions John was already writing broadcasts for what would become the War Information Office.)

December 5: Sea of Cortez , written with Edward Ricketts, is published.

December 7: Pearl Harbor is bombed by a surprise Japanese raid. The United States responds by declaring war on the Japanese on December 8, 1941. A war declaration is issued for Germany on December 11, 1941.

December (Mid): John submits the manuscript for The Moon Is Down to Viking Press for publication.

December 15: Steinbeck makes suggestions to COI William Donovan about cooperation with Japanese-American organizations.

December (Late): John and Gwyn spend Christmas and New Year’s holidays in New Orleans at Roark Bradford.

January 7: John returns to New York to work on a stage version of The Moon Is Down .

February 24: Voice of America (VOA) conducts its first broadcast.

February 27: Steinbeck’s 40th birthday.

March: John is sued for divorce by first wife Carol.

March 6: The Moon Is Down is published.

April (Early): John is offered a full-time position at the OWI.

April 7: The stage version of The Moon Is Down opens in New York’s Martin Beck Theater. The production runs through May 6, 1942 (71 performances).

May (Mid): Steinbeck is offered a temporary assignment to write two books for the Army Air Corps.

May 5: Steinbeck writes the Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, about using Japanese oceanographic studies for intelligence purposes. Two months later, a Naval Intelligence Officer visits Ed Ricketts for a follow-up to Steinbeck’s suggestion.

May 11: Attorney General Francis Biddle forwards Steinbeck’s “ask Edgar’s boys to stop stepping on my heels” letter to J. Edgar Hoover.

May 12: Steinbeck applies for a pistol permit in Rockland County, NY.

May 21: Film version of Tortilla Flat released. Also the FBI sends a letter to Attorney General Francis Biddle reporting that the FBI has never investigated Steinbeck.

May (Late)–June: Steinbeck travels with photographer John Swope on board Army Air Corps flights gathering material for Bombs Away.

June 13: The Office of Strategic Services is officially established along with the Office of War Information.

July 23: Steinbeck writes Toby Street that his official job title is now Special Consultant to the Secretary of War attached to the Army Air Corps and is also performing the job duties as the foreign news editor for the Office of War Information. John is also convinced that he will receive an Army commission as an intelligence officer “in the fall.”

September: John and Gwyn return to California ostensibly so John can work on a film for the Army Air Corps.

October 27: Attorney General’s office calls the FBI with a request to see the FBI’s file on Steinbeck.

November 27: Bombs Away: The Story of a Bomber Team is published.

December: John begins a script for an Army Air Corps training film.

December 3: An unknown person reports to the FBI that Steinbeck is at Japanese internment camps dressed in an Army uniform agitating internees.

January: Steinbeck writes the screenplay for Hitchcock’s movie Lifeboat .

January (Mid): John and Gywn move into a New York City apartment.

February 23: US Army Counter Intelligence does a background check on Steinbeck with the Office of Naval Intelligence, San Francisco Police Department, San Francisco FBI Field Office, and the American Legion Radical Research Bureau.

March: John applies to be a war correspondent with The New York Herald Tribune.

March 14: Film version of The Moon Is Down released in the United States.

March 27: Steinbeck flies to New Orleans to get married to Gwyn.

March 29: Steinbeck marries Gwyn Conger in New Orleans at the home of Lyle Saxon.

April 5: The War Department approves John’s credentials as a war correspondent and Steinbeck notifies Toby Street by telegram.

May: Steinbeck spends the month preparing to go overseas.

May (Late) to June (Mid): US Army Counter Intelligence agents conduct acquaintance check on Steinbeck in California.

June 3: John leaves New York aboard a troop ship for London.

June 8: Steinbeck arrives in London.

July 25–31: Steinbeck spends four days with staff officers from General Lee’s SOS.

July 26: General Weaver is briefed that Steinbeck has “started his movie.”

July 27: Army Counter Intelligence Chief Boris Pash generates a report consolidating the military’s investigation into Steinbeck’s character. Pash does not agree with the reporting officer’s recommendation that Steinbeck is loyal and declines John’s commission in the US Army.

August 13: John writes Gwyn that he is in Northern Africa (probably Algiers).

August 19: Steinbeck writes to Gwyn that he has been traveling throughout the countryside with a cameraman and an enlisted man “taking some pictures.”

August 25: In another letter to Gywn, Steinbeck says that he is with a group of naval officers at a Gregorian monastery that is an ad hoc hospital. All indications in the letter are that Steinbeck is still in Algeria.

September 8–9: Steinbeck participates in the capture of Ventotene with Douglas Fairbanks Jr.’s unit of Beach Jumpers and OSS operatives.

September 9: The Allies begin Operation Avalanche to take Salerno.

September 10: John accompanies Beach Jumper Lt. John Kramer on a diversion mission in the Gulf of Gaeta.

September 12: Still attached to the Beach Jumpers, Steinbeck participates in the liberation of the Isle of Capri.

September 13 or 14: John reaches the Italian mainland to cover Salerno invasion.

September 14: Steinbeck mentions in a letter to Gwyn (dated September 23, 1943) that he had a particularly “rough night” referring to Salerno.

September 20: Steinbeck is aboard a transport ship after Salerno.

September 22: Steinbeck reaches an undisclosed military base in the Mediterranean.

September 24: Steinbeck returns to London.

October 15: Steinbeck returns to the USA from London.

November: Steinbeck begins work on Cannery Row .

January (Mid): Steinbeck travels to Mexico with Gwyn.

January 10: Steinbeck has seen an advance copy of Lifeboat and writes to 20th Century Fox. John is disappointed with script changes that depict the African-American seaman as “half-comic and half-pathetic.”

January 28: Lifeboat opens to film audiences in the United States.

February 21: The New York Times reports that Steinbeck is an owner/contributor of Associated Magazine Contributors INC.

February 22: An unknown associate of Jacob Epstein enters the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City.

February 23: Steinbeck attends a reception at the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City.

March 15: Steinbeck returns to the United States via Brownsville, TX.

March 22: The United States Ambassador to Mexico sends a secret memo to J. Edgar Hoover related to Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway in affairs in Mexico.

Spring: Steinbeck meets Ernest Hemingway for the first, and only time, at Tim Costello’s bar in Manhattan.

April 8: The San Antonio FBI field office sends a report to J. Edgar Hoover regarding Steinbeck’s entry into Mexico on March 15th.

April 12: Steinbeck writes to Carlton Sheffield about the injuries he sustained during the Salerno invasion. John also speaks of his feelings about being blacklisted from the Army.

June 24 and 29: Steinbeck’s suggestions for a statement and a platform for the Democratic National Convention are forwarded to President Roosevelt on these dates.

July 7: Steinbeck attends author Lion Feuchtwanger’s 60th birthday party in New York. Steinbeck has planned the event with publisher B. W. Huebsch and screenwriter/director Berthold Vierte.

August 2: Steinbeck’s first son, Thomas, is born.

August 8: President Roosevelt sends a letter to John congratulating him on the birth of Thom.

October (Early): Steinbeck moves back to California with his family.

November 23: A film version of The Moon Is Down opens in Sweden.

October 15–January (late) 1945: Steinbeck works on The Pearl .

January 2: Cannery Row is published.

February 9: John and Gwyn travel to Mexico City to assist in the filming of The Pearl .

February 4–11: President Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, and Winston Churchill attend the Yalta conference to discuss the world’s reorganization after the end of World War II.

April 5: Steinbeck and Jack Wagner take a train from Los Angeles to Mexico City.

April 12: President Roosevelt dies from a stroke.

April 16: A Medal for Benny is released in the USA.

May 3–July 12: Steinbeck is in Cuernavaca, Mexico. (Dates of travel are unknown, but letters denote Steinbeck was here during this period.)

May 8: Germany surrenders, effectively ending hostilities in Europe.

August: John works on the screenplay for The Pearl .

August 14: Japan surrenders to Allied forces, effectively ending the Second World War.

September 5: Igor Gouzenko, a clerk working in the Soviet embassy in Ottawa, defects and provides proof to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police of a Soviet spy ring operating in Canada and other western countries.

October 1: The OSS is officially dissolved by Executive Order 9162.

November: John travels from New York to Mexico for filming of The Pearl .

December 15: Steinbeck returns to New York from Mexico.

January–May: Steinbeck works on The Wayward Bus .

March 5: Winston Churchill gives the “Iron Curtain” speech at Westminster College.

March 12: President Truman announces the “Truman Doctrine” and proposes giving aid to Greece and Turkey to fend off Communist aggression.

June 12: Steinbeck’s second son, John IV, is born.

July: Steinbeck returns to Mexico for post-production work on The Pearl .

October 18: John and Gwyn sail for Sweden aboard the SS Drottningholm.

October 30: Steinbeck attends a legation luncheon in Copenhagen.

November 15: John receives the Norwegian King Haakon Liberty Cross.

November 18–19: John and Gwyn fly from Stockholm to New York on Swedish Airlines flight 1039.

January 18: An undisclosed source in San Simeon, California, writes J. Edgar Hoover to tell him of Steinbeck’s Communist tendencies. The source possibly works with or is related to the Hearst Media Empire.

February: The Wayward Bus is published.

March (Late): Steinbeck discusses a trip to Russia with Robert Capa at the Bedford Hotel bar. The New York Herald Tribune is interested in publishing articles from Steinbeck and pictures by Capa of the trip.

May 14: John injures his knee after a fall from a second-story window. The trip to Russia with Capa is postponed.

June (Early): John, Gwyn, and Robert Capa travel to Paris.

June 5: Secretary of State George Marshall outlines a plan for reconstructing a war-ravaged Europe, that will become known as the “Marshall Plan.”

July 18: Gwyn returns to New York from Paris.

July 21: Steinbeck and Capa fly from Paris to Stockholm.

July 31–August 1: Steinbeck and Capa land in Moscow.

August 4–19: Steinbeck is in Kiev. (Dates estimated from a letter to Pat Covici.)

August 20: Steinbeck arrives in Stalingrad.

October: House Committee on Un-American Activities begins hearings in Washington.

October 4–5: Steinbeck and Capa fly from Paris to New York on an Air France.

November: The Pearl is published.

November 24: The Hollywood Ten are cited with contempt of Congress and are “blacklisted” from working in Hollywood the next day.

December 18: Steinbeck incorporates World Video Inc. as president with Robert Capa and Phil Reisman as vice presidents.

January (Early): Steinbeck flies to California for research and to spend time with Ed Ricketts.

April: A Russian Journal is published by Viking Press.

April 20–27: John has a procedure to remove varicose veins in his legs and is hospitalized for a week. (Hospital indate is estimated from a previous letter to Ed Ricketts. Steinbeck’s outdate is confirmed by a letter to Bo Beskow.)

May 8: Ed Ricketts crosses a railroad track when his truck was hit by the Del Monte Express train at the Drake Avenue crossing off Cannery Row.

May 11: Ed Ricketts dies in injuries sustained in the May 8th automobile accident Steinbeck cannot get to California in time to see his friend before he passes.

May (Mid): After Ed Ricketts’ funeral, Steinbeck and George Robinson visit Rickett’s lab on Cannery Row. The pair burns many of Ricketts’ journals and Steinbeck’s letters to Ed.

May 20: Steinbeck returns to New York by this date.

June (Early): Steinbeck returns to Mexico and is back in New York by June 19th.

June 11: The Los Angles Examiner announces that Ring Laudner Jr., a member of the “Hollywood Ten,” would write the screenplay for Steinbeck’s Pastures of Heaven . This was the first time employment of a member of the Hollywood Ten had ever been considered. The movie was never made.

June 24: Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin blocks all land routes into West Berlin through East Germany. The action will result in Western powers beginning the use of the Berlin Airlift to send supplies into West Berlin.

June–August: Steinbeck spends much of these months in Mexico working on the film Viva Zapata!

August (Mid): Gwyn tells Steinbeck she wishes to divorce him.

September (Early): Steinbeck moves to Pacific Grove. John takes along former Navy steward James Neale as a domestic servant.

September 18: Ritch and Tal Lovejoy join John for coffee this morning.

November 2: Steinbeck rendezvouses with Elia Kazan in Los Angeles.

November 5: Steinbeck and Kazan fly to Mexico City to assist in the filming of Viva Zapata!

November 14: John returns to California from Mexico.

November 23: Steinbeck is elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

December 25: “The Miracle of Tepayac” is published by Collier’s Weekly .

December (Late): Steinbeck spends New Year’s in Los Angeles.

March 28: The film version of The Red Pony is released in the United States after a seven-year delay.

March: Writers meeting at New York’s Waldorf Astoria calls for the end of hostilities between the Soviets and Americans.

May: Steinbeck goes to Monterey’s Del Monte Aviation to discuss flight lessons for his domestic servant John Neale and the possibility of purchasing an aircraft.

May 27–30: John spends the weekend in Pacific Grove with Ann Southern and Elaine Scott. This is the first time he meets his future wife Elaine.

June (Late)–August (Late): John spends the summer with his sons in Pacific Grove.

August 29: The Soviet Union tests their first atomic bomb.

October 14: Toby Street visits John in Pacific Grove.

November 1: Jules Buck works with Steinbeck in Pacific Grove for early script work on Viva Zapata!.

November (Early)–November 14: Jack Wagner is a house-guest of John in Pacific Grove.

December (Late): John is back in New York in time for the holidays.

January 28: John attends a party for Ethyl Barrymore. In attendance are Margo Albert, Bernard Mannes Baruch, Leonard Bernstein, Ray Bolger, Abe Burrows, Lillian Gish, Frank Loesser, John Ringling North, and William Saroyan.

February 4: John sees Caesar and Cleo at New York’s National Theater.

June (Late)–September (Early): John and Elaine spend the summer with John’s sons in Rockland County. The budding family rents a house that belonged to artist Henry Varnum Poor.

June 22: Red Channels is published, effectively blacklisting over 150 actors, authors, composers, musicians, and broadcasters.

June 25: North Korea invades South Korea, beginning the Korean War.

October: Novella Burning Bright is published.

October 5: John is in Boston for rehearsals and last-minute rewrites of Burning Bright .

October 18: The stage version of Burning Bright opens at New York’s Broadherst Theater. The play runs until October 28, 1950 (13 performances).

November 2: Steinbeck’s interview with Eleanor Roosevelt on The Eleanor Roosevelt Show (NBC Radio) is broadcast. During the interview, the former First Lady asks John about his new play, Burning Bright.

December 7: John and Elaine attend a performance of Clifford Odets’ The Country Girl at the Lyceum Theatre.

December 28: Steinbeck marries third wife, Elaine Anderson Scott.

January (Early)–January 8: John and Elaine travel to Somerset, Bahamas, and leave for New York on the 8th, aboard Pan American flight 133.

January 31: John and Elaine move into a house on New York’s 72nd St.

February 12: Steinbeck begins work on East of Eden .

February 21: Steinbeck tapes an interview for VOA on art under dictatorship.

February 24: Steinbeck attends a party no other details are available.

February 28: Steinbeck attends a World Video stockholder’s meeting.

March 9–11: Steinbeck and Elaine spend the weekend at Burgess Meredith’s house.

March 16: Steinbeck and Elaine see The Rose Tattoo .

March 21: In his journal, Steinbeck predicts that the Soviet Union will break up under its own weight. He also believes the United States should reach out to dissidents to hasten Communism’s end. John also prognosticates that a one-world government is in the works.

March 24: During the Easter weekend, Steinbeck spends the night in Long Island for an unknown reason.

March 29: Julius and Ethyl Rosenberg are convicted of espionage for passing nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. Steinbeck and Elaine attend the opening of The King and I and have dinner afterward with John O’Hara at Sardi’s.

April 7: Steinbeck and Elaine attend a party for the musical South Pacific in New York.

April 13: Steinbeck writes in his journal that Collier’s Weekly wants him to “make the big trip” in January of 1952.

April 17: Steinbeck spends the evening with Clifford Odets and Juan Negrin.

April 29: Steinbeck and Elaine attend two separate parties. One party is at Faye Emerson’s and another is for Joan Crawford at the Stork Club.

May 1: The Steinbecks host a dinner party for Frank and Lynn Looser and Fred and Portland Allen.

May 10: The Steinbecks have dinner with a distant relative of Elaine’s, oil baron Lawrence Hagy.

May 25: John is scheduled to attend the National Book Award (Poetry) nomination of Archie MacLeish.

May 29: John and Elaine attend the second opening of Oklahoma .

June (Mid) to September (Mid): John and Elaine spend the summer with John’s sons in Nantucket. John continues to work on East of Eden .

July 19: Elizabeth Otis visits Steinbeck and Elaine for several days.

July 4: American journalist William N. Oatis receives a ten-year sentence in Czechoslovakia on an espionage charge.

August 8: Ballerina Tamera Geva visits John and Elaine.

August 10: Geva and Kent Smith visit the Steinbecks. Kent appeared in Steinbeck’s play Burning Bright .

September: The Log from the Sea of Cortez, the narrative part of the Sea of Cortez (1941), is published by Viking Press. This edition includes an original essay About Ed Ricketts.

September 26: Steinbeck attends a production of Burning Bright .

October 16: John and Elaine go to a production of A Streetcar Named Desire with Elia Kazan.

October 23: Steinbeck buys a raincoat for the 1952 European trip.

October 24: Steinbeck tapes an interview for VOA.

November (Early): John finishes the manuscript for East of Ede n.

January 14: Steinbeck’s friend and co-writer of Viva Zapata! Elia Kazan testifies before an executive committee meeting of HUAC. Kazan admits he was a member of the Communist Party in 1936, but is hesitant to name other members.

January 28: Steinbeck writes CIA Director Walter Bedell “Beetle” Smith offering his assistance to the CIA during John’s upcoming trip to Europe.

January 31: A USIA interview with Steinbeck is broadcast on VOA.

February 6: Walter Bedell Smith replies to Steinbeck’s letter that the Agency would be interested in his help and instructs Steinbeck to visit him before leaving for Europe.

February 7: Viva Zapata! is released in the United States.

February 11: A USIA interview with Steinbeck is broadcast on VOA.

February 26: A USIA interview with Steinbeck is broadcast on VOA.

February 27: Steinbeck celebrates his 50th birthday.

March 11: Dwight Eisenhower wins New Hampshire’s Republican primary.

March 18: The State Department is sent a report by the FBI fulfilling a request on any information the FBI holds on Steinbeck after February 13, 1948.

March (Late): Steinbeck and Elaine leave New York bound for Genoa, Italy. The ship changes course and lands in Casablanca and then Algiers. While in Algiers, the Steinbecks attend a party thrown by a French Air Force General. The couple takes a ship from Algiers to Marcelles and then drives to Spain.

April 10: Elia Kazan testifies before HUAC for a second time. Kazan amends his January testimony and names persons he knew were in the Communist Party in the 1930s.

April 11: Steinbeck and Elaine arrive in Madrid. (Date is estimated based on the source letter.)

April 21: Steinbeck and Elaine travel to Seville.

April 28: General Matthew Ridgway is named as NATO commander.

May 11: Steinbeck and Elaine arrive in Paris via a train from Madrid.

May 27: Steinbeck writes to Elizabeth Otis that he has been interviewed by the Communist publication Combat.

May (Late)–July (Mid): Steinbeck and Elaine take a driving tour from Paris to Milan, Venice, Florence, and Rome.

May 28 or 29: Steinbeck and Elaine leave Paris and travel by car to Dijon.

May 29 or 30: Steinbeck and Elaine travel by car from Dijon to Poligny.

June 1: Steinbeck and Elaine travel from Poligny to Geneva.

June 16: Steinbeck and Elaine arrive in Rome.

June 23: Steinbeck’s Italian literary agent throws a reception in John’s honor.

June 25: John and Elaine have reservations to depart South Hampton, UK, on the Queen Elizabeth bound for New York but do not board.

July 13: John and Elaine arrive back in Paris.

July 14: Steinbeck and Elaine have dinner with John Houston, José Ferrer, Robert Capa, Suzanne Flon, and the cast of Moulin Rouge at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant.

July 24: Steinbeck and Elaine leave Paris for London.

July 25–August 16: Steinbeck and Elaine travel throughout England and Scotland.

August 17: John and Elaine arrive in Londonderry, Ireland.

August 23: “A Duel without Pistols” is published in Collier’s Weekly .

August 30: “The Soul and Guts of France” is published by Collier’s Weekly .

August 31: John and Elaine fly from Orly Airport in Paris to New York on Air France flight 037.

September: East of Eden is published.

September 10: Steinbeck finishes reading Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea.

September 25: Rita Reil of the International Press Alliance Corporation writes Elizabeth Otis about the French newspaper France Dimanche refuting facts in “The Soul and Guts of France.”

Fall: Steinbeck becomes involved with Adali Stevenson’s campaign for president and writes speeches for Stevenson rallies throughout the East Coast. At this point, Steinbeck and Stevenson have never met.

January: Steinbeck and Elaine go to the Virgin Islands for a vacation.

January 10: Collier’s Weekly publishes “The Secret Weapon We Were Afraid to Use.”

January 20: Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes President of the United States.

January 31: “I Go Back to Ireland” is published in Collier’s Weekly.

March 24–27: Steinbeck takes his sons to Nantucket for a brief vacation while Elaine visits family in Texas.

April 23: Roy Cohn and G. David Schine, chief aides to Senator Joseph McCarthy, return from an investigatory trip to USIS posts in Europe. The pair removed 30,000 books from USIS libraries that included works from Steinbeck, Herman Melville, and Henry David Thoreau.

June 2: Roland William Kibbee testifies to HUAC that while Steinbeck’s novels did more for agricultural workers than “anyone else in the Communist Party,” Steinbeck was at odds with the Communists. The sources could not present any proof of the claim.

July 27: An armistice is signed, effectively ending the Korean War.

September: Steinbeck rents a cottage in Sag Harbor to be closer to the producers of the musical version of Cannery Row .

January: John and Elaine vacation in Saint John and meet John Kenneth Galbraith and his wife.

March 1: FBI sends a summary file check report on Steinbeck to the USIA.

March 10: FBI generates a summary of findings on Steinbeck for an unknown reason, but could possibly be related to the USIA request.

March 19: John and Elaine board the Italian Lines ship Saturina bound for Lisbon.

March 26: Steinbeck and Elaine land in Lisbon for an extended tour of Europe.

April 21: Steinbeck and Elaine are in Seville.

April 22: Steinbeck visits the Seville’s Archives of the Indies to view original documents from Christopher Columbus.

May 7: French forces fall to the Viet Minh at Dien Bien Phu.

May 14: Steinbeck and Elaine arrive in Paris after a six-day road trip. One of the stops along the way was an overnight at Blois.

May 21: Steinbeck’s French literary agent holds a reception in John’s honor.

May 25: Steinbeck moves into their rented house at Number 1 Avenue de Marginy.

May 27: Steinbeck receives word that Robert Capa has been killed by a landmine in French-Indochina.

June: Sweet Thursday is published.

June 13: Steinbeck agrees to be part of a charity event for the children of soldiers who died under General Leclerc’s liberation army. The event is held at the Tuileries Garden.

July: “Jalopies I Cursed and Loved” is published in Holiday Magazine ’s July issue.

July (Early): Steinbeck travels to Munich at the request of the USIA to record personal statements about the situation in East Germany. These comments will be broadcast on Radio Free Europe.

August 14: John holds a birthday party for Elaine at a chateau outside of Paris. The party and its trappings are said to have been the genesis for The Short Reign of Pippin IV .

August 25: “Fishing in Paris” is published by Punch Magazine .

September 8: Elaine and Steinbeck leave Paris for London.

September 29: Steinbeck is in Saint Paul de Venice, France, and notes in a letter to Elizabeth Otis that he has shaved his thirty-year-old moustache off.

October 28 or 29: The United States Embassy in Rome holds a reception for Steinbeck. Steinbeck also mentions in an October 29th letter to Elizabeth Otis that “Italy is full of flying saucers” and that “Clare Luce says she saw something [UFO].”

October (Late): Steinbeck leaves Rome with Elaine to take a tour with the Greek Islands with John McKnight (head of USIS in Rome) and his wife.

November 29: John and Elaine are in Sicily.

December 2: Steinbeck and Elaine travel from Positano, Italy, to Naples.

December (Late): Steinbeck and Elaine return to New York aboard the Andrea Doria and land just in time to celebrate Christmas. During the trip, John meets Mark Ethridge of the Louisville Courier-Journal .

January: William Faulkner and Steinbeck meet for the first time.

The January edition of Reader’s Digest runs “How to Fish in French.”

March: John purchases a summer home in Sag Harbor, New York.

March 9: John attends the premier of the stage version of East of Eden at the Astor Theater. In attendance are Raymond Massey, Elia Kazan, and Jack Warner.

April 2: John begins writing editorials and articles for The Saturday Review . His first piece, “Death of a Racket,” is published in the April 2nd edition.

April 4: Steinbeck has lunch with Dag Hammarskjöld.

April 10: The film version of East of Eden opens in the United States.

May 28: “Some Thoughts on Juvenile Delinquency” is published by The Saturday Review .

June: “Always Something to Do in Salinas” is published in the June edition of Holiday Magazine .

July 5: Steinbeck takes his boat from Sag Harbor to fish off Montauk Point.

September 26: John has lunch with Pipe Dream star Helen Traumbel.

October (unknown date): Steinbeck travels to Boston for performances of Pipe Dream .

November 30: New York City opening of Pipe Dream at the Schubert Theater. The production is a Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein musical based on Sweet Thursday and runs for 256 performances ending on June 30, 1956.

December: “What Is the Real Paris?” is published by Holiday Magazine in their December issue.

December (Late): John and Elaine travel to Trinidad for the New Year’s holiday with Rogers and Hammerstein staffer John Fearnley. After New Year’s, the trio sails around the Windward and Leeward Islands.

January: “The Yank in Europe” is published in Holiday Magazine’ s January issue.

February: “Miracle Island of Paris” is published in Holiday Magazine ’s February issue.

April 13: Steinbeck goes to Washington for an unknown purpose. He mentions in a letter to Pat Covici that he “haven’t (sic) been there since the war. I hope they’ve cleared the rubble.”

May 5: Steinbeck covers the Kentucky Derby for the Louisville Courier-Journal and meets Harry Guggenheim and wife Alicia Patterson. The meeting will lead to John writing for the Guggenheim-owned Newsday .

July 1: Chase Horton talks to J.M.S. Blakiston at Winchester College at 9:25 a.m. and has lunch with Robert Payne at Winchester later that day. Horton takes a taxi to the Duke of Norfolk’s Castle in Asundel.

July 2: Chase Horton notes Steinbeck leaves London on this day.

August: “Discovering the People of Paris” is published in Holiday Magazine ’s August edition.

August 10–17: Steinbeck is in Chicago to attend the Democratic National Convention and covers the event for the Louisville Courier-Journal.

August 20–23: Steinbeck attends the Republican National Convention in San Francisco.

September: Steinbeck performs services as a speechwriter for Adlai Stevenson and the USIA. Steinbeck also records a number of pieces for Radio Free Europe.

November 19: John finishes the manuscript for The Short Reign of Pippin IV .

December or January (Early) 1957: President Eisenhower asks William Faulkner to head his “People to People” program. (Date is estimated from source letter.)

January (Early): Steinbeck prepares for another trip to the UK, funded by articles he will write for the Louisville Courier-Journal.

January 7: Steinbeck visits the Morgan Library in New York City.

January 17: Steinbeck writes Arthur Larson, Director of the USIA, regarding sending books to Eastern Europe and admonishing the denial of a passport to signer and civil rights activist Paul Robeson.

January 19: Steinbeck has lunch with Chase Horton.

March: “My War with the Ospreys” is published in Holiday Magazine ’s March edition.

March 25: Steinbeck and Elaine set sail for Naples on the Saturnia.

April: The Short Reign of Pippin IV is published.

April 12: The CIA is sent information about Steinbeck from the FBI. This report is also sent to the CIA’s Office of Security to a redacted source on April 15th.

April 26: Steinbeck is in Rome and writes Elizabeth Otis and Chase Horton regarding his Malory research.

May 9: Steinbeck is in Florence.

May 17: Steinbeck spends the evening with Professor Armando Sapori.

May 27: The film version of The Wayward Bus is released in America.

June: Esquire publishes Steinbeck’s “The Trial of Arthur Miller.”

July 4: Steinbeck is in Stockholm.

July 13: Steinbeck is in London.

July 17: “Red Novelist’s Visit Produces Uneasy Talk” is published by the Louisville Courier-Journal.

July 18: Steinbeck meets Eugene Vinaver in Manchester for the first time.

July 19: Steinbeck spends the night at the Royal Crewe Arms in Blanchland.

July 20: Steinbeck writes Eugene Vinaver about their first meeting. The postscript of this letter has been removed from Steinbeck: A Life in Letters . John also visits Rothbury and Hadrian’s Wall.

July 21: Steinbeck travels along Hadrian’s Wall and down into Wales.

July 22: Steinbeck travels to Tresanton Saint Mawes near Falmouth.

July 23: Steinbeck returns to Manchester.

July 25: John and Elaine return to New York on the Queen Elizabeth .

August 30: Steinbeck boards Pan American flight 857 from San Francisco to Tokyo.

September 1–10: Steinbeck attends a meeting of the International Association of Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists and Novelists in Tokyo. John leaves Tokyo on the 10th on Pan American flight 856.

September (Late): Steinbeck returns to his Sag Harbor home to continue work on the Malory project.

October 4: The Soviets launch the first artificial Earth satellite, Sputnik 1, into low Earth orbit.

February 12: The United Nations contacts Steinbeck to ask if he will travel to the “Near-East to do some kind of definitive work on a film about the refugee situation there.” Steinbeck declines the offer to continue work on the Malory project.

May: Steinbeck is in London.

June 4: Chase Horton speaks to Joseph Campbell.

June (Early): Steinbeck and Elaine travel to England for research on the Malory project.

June 10–13: Steinbeck travels by train from London to Glastonbury. While in Glastonbury, he stays in the George and Pilgrim and meets Robert Bolt. John returns to London on the afternoon of the 13th.

July (Early): Steinbeck and Elaine return to New York from the UK.

September: Once There Was a War is published.

September (Late): Steinbeck sends a finished draft of the Malory project to Chase Horton and Elizabeth Otis for review.

November 6: John replies to a letter by Stuart L. Hannon, assistant to the director of Radio Free Europe. Steinbeck grants Radio Free Europe the right to air/publish his comments on Boris Pasternak’s (author of Dr. Zhivago ) Nobel Prize for Literature award.

January 31: Steinbeck has a phone conversation with Chase Horton.

March–October: John travels in England and Wales, researching background for a modern English version of Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur .

March 5–11: Steinbeck sails from New York to Plymouth, UK, aboard the Liberte .

April 30: Steinbeck is in Cadbury.

May 2: Steinbeck visits Glastonbury and the ruins of the Abbey.

May 13: Steinbeck is disheartened by an initial review of his Le Morte d’Arthur rewrite by Chase Horton and Elizabeth Otis.

June 24: Steinbeck is in Cadbury for Mid-Summer’s Eve and believes he saw the ghost of King Arthur.

July: An FBI informant relays that Steinbeck has received a check in the amount of $188.70 from the New York account of the National Bank of Bulgaria. The check is supposedly forwarded to Steinbeck via his literary agent at McIntosh and Otis.

July 2: John and Elaine visit Plush Folly in Dorset.

August 26: Steinbeck spends the day at Amesbury with Sir Philip Antrobus.

October 1–14: Steinbeck is in London.

October 22: Steinbeck returns to New York from the UK aboard the Flandre.

December 3: A minor stroke hospitalizes John for two weeks.

January 11–25: John and Elaine vacation in Caneel Bay.

March–July: Steinbeck drafts the final versions of The Winter of Our Discontent .

May 1: While conducting a reconnaissance mission for the CIA, Francis Gary Powers’ U-2 is shot down over the Soviet Union.

September 23–November: Steinbeck tours the United States with his poodle, Charley.

January 20: Steinbeck and Elaine attend President Kennedy’s inaugural address with John Kenneth Galbraith and his wife.

February 20: Steinbeck is in the British West Indies. (Dates of travel are unknown, but the source notes Steinbeck was here during this period.)

February 28: Steinbeck is in Barbados. (Dates of actual travel are unknown, but the source denotes Steinbeck was here during this period.)

March: “Conversation at Sag Harbor” is published in Holiday Magazine ’s March edition.

March–April: John travels to San Diego to perform duties for the Mohole Expedition. The team plans to drill a 12,000-foot hole off the coast of Mexico. John has to return from the expedition due to a torn hernia.

April: The Winter of Our Discontent is published.

April 17–19: The Bay of Pigs Invasion occurs.

May 24: John and Elaine have dinner with Dag Hammarskjöld.

July: “In Quest of America Part One” is published in Holiday Magazine ’s July edition.

August 13: East Germany closes the border between East and West Berlin and begins construction of the Berlin Wall four days later.

September (Early): Prior to the 5th, Dag Hammarskjöld meets with John. Hammarskjöld wrote letters of introduction to Heads of State whom he thought Steinbeck might wish to call on during his time abroad. These included the president of the United Arab Republic, Gamal Abdel Nasser Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion vice president of India, Dr. S. Radakrishnan and Prime Minister of Burma, U. Nu. Hammarskjöld also sent a letter of introduction to Professor Martin Buber in Jerusalem.

September 8: John, Elaine, and John’s sons set sail for England aboard the Rotterdam.

September–June 1962: Steinbeck spends ten months in Europe.

November: Steinbeck suffers a minor stroke/heart attack in Milan.

December: “In Quest of America Part Two” is published in Holiday Magazine’ s December edition.

December 24: John and Elaine have an audience with Pope John XXIII at the Vatican.

February: “In Quest of America Part Three” is published in Holiday Magazine’ s February edition.

February 27: John celebrates his 60th birthday on the Isle of Capri.

July: Travels with Charley is published.

June (Late): Steinbeck writes journalist Max Freedman regarding John’s ideas about subversive activities to undermine Communist control of the Berlin Wall.

July 21: Journalist Max Freedman contacts President Kennedy’s assistant Evelyn Lincoln about Steinbeck’s Berlin War proposals.

August 21: President Kennedy writes to journalist Max Freedman regarding Steinbeck’s proposals on the Berlin Wall.

October 14–28: Tensions between the Soviets and Americans result in the two-week Cuban Missile Crisis.

October 25: Steinbeck is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and holds a press conference.

November 5: John takes publicity photos at his home in Sag Harbor.

November 17: John takes more publicity photos in Sag Harbor.

December 10: Steinbeck delivers Nobel Prize acceptance speech in Stockholm.

May: Steinbeck and Edward Albee are in Washington for briefings on their upcoming Soviet Union trip.

October 6: The New York Herald Tribune publishes “Reflections of a Lunar Eclipse.”

October–December: Steinbeck travels to Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and Russia on United States Information Agency cultural tour, with playwright Edward Albee.

November 15: Steinbeck poses for Martiros Saryan, Lenin Prize laureate painter of Russia in Moscow.

November 22: President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas, and Lyndon Johnson is sworn in as President of the United States. Steinbeck and Albee are still behind the Iron Curtain. Steinbeck decides that the pair should finish the mission President Kennedy had sent them on to honor the memory of the fallen president.

December 17: Steinbeck is debriefed by the State Department for three days after his return to the States. Albee and Steinbeck are known to have met with Lucius Battle after returning to Washington. After the debriefing, Steinbeck and Elaine meet President Johnson at a White House dinner.

January 3: USIA interview with Steinbeck and Edward Albee is broadcast on VOA.

February: Steinbeck meets with Jacqueline Kennedy regarding a biography of John F. Kennedy. The project never came to fruition.

February 27: CIA requests information about Steinbeck from the FBI.

April 23: Steinbeck is in New York with presidential adviser Jack Valenti.

August 21: Steinbeck has an eight-minute telephone conversation with President Johnson about attending the Democratic National Convention and speechwriting.

September 14: John is presented with the United States Medal of Freedom by President Johnson.

October 14: Longtime friend and Steinbeck’s publisher Pat Covici dies.

January (Early): Steinbeck and Elaine travel from Ireland to London and then go on to Paris.

January 23: Steinbeck’s sister Mary Steinbeck Dekker dies in California.

April (Late): LBJ invites John and Elaine for a weekend at the White House.

June 20: Steinbeck writes Douglas Fairbanks Jr. to arrange a visit to the Duchess of Buccleuch’s family library with Eugene Vinevar.

Also a report is sent to FBI Associate Director Clyde Tolson and Deputy Director Cartha DeLoach on Steinbeck’s background.

October 5: Steinbeck attends “Businessman’s Dinner” at the White House with President Johnson.

November: Steinbeck was back in Northumberland, with Eugene Vinaver of Manchester, examining manuscripts in the Alnwick Castle library.

December (Late): Steinbeck spends Christmas with John Houston at his house in St. Clearan’s, Ireland.

December 31: Steinbeck’s “Letters to Alicia” article published in Newsday tells of a possible new Malory manuscript at Alnwick Castle.

March 9: An invitation to the Bohemian Club’s summer retreat, known as Bohemian Grove, is sent to John.

March 18: John declines invitation to Bohemian Grove.

April: President Johnson appoints Steinbeck to the Council of the National Endowment for the Arts.

May 16: Steinbeck and son John IV visit President Johnson at the White House.

July 1: John attends a whale boat race between the US Coast Guard and Norway at Sag Harbor.

October: Steinbeck and Elaine receive status as war correspondents for Newsday to cover the Vietnam conflict.

October 12: America and Americans is published by Viking Press.

December to April 1967: Steinbeck’s extensive visit to South Vietnam for fact-finding and to visit John IV.

April (Late): Steinbeck and Elaine leave Vietnam and visit Thailand and Laos.

May: Steinbeck and Elaine report to President Johnson about their experience in Vietnam at a White House meeting.

October 23: Steinbeck has back surgery.

December: Steinbeck vacations with Elaine to the Virgin Islands.

March 18: The FBI sends a name check on Steinbeck to Mildred Stegall, President Johnson’s White House aide.

August 21: Steinbeck returns to his Sag Harbor home.

December 20: Steinbeck dies in New York of arteriosclerosis.

Journal of a Novel: The “East of Eden” Letters is published.

Steinbeck: A Life in Letters is published by Viking Press.

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights is published by Viking Press.


Steinbeck, John

Steinbeck, John ( 27 February 1902–20 December 1968 ), author , was born John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr., in Salinas, California, the son of John Ernst Steinbeck, a businessman, accountant, and manager, and Olive Hamilton, a former teacher. As a child growing up in the fertile and sharply beautiful Salinas Valley—dubbed early in the century the “Salad Bowl of the Nation”—Steinbeck learned to appreciate his environment, not only the verdant hills surrounding Salinas, but also the nearby Pacific coast, where his family spent summer vacations. “I remember my childhood names for grasses and secret flowers,” he wrote in the opening chapter of East of Eden (1952). “I remember where a toad may live and what time the birds awaken in the summer—and what trees and seasons smelled like.” The observant, shy, but often mischievous only son had, for the most part, a happy childhood growing up with two older sisters, one adored younger sister, an assertive mother, and a quiet, self-contained father. Never wealthy, the family was nonetheless prominent in the small town of 3,000, for both parents engaged in community activities. Mr. Steinbeck was a Mason Mrs. Steinbeck, a member of Eastern Star. Children of immigrants, the elder Steinbecks established their identities by sending deep roots into the community. Their son, on the other hand, was something of a rebel and a loner. Respectable Salinas circumscribed the restless and imaginative young man. Encouraged by his freshman English teacher, he decided at age fifteen that he wished to be a writer and spent hours as a teenager living in a world of his own making, writing stories and poems in his upstairs bedroom.

To please his parents, he enrolled at Stanford University in 1919 to please himself, he signed on only for courses that interested him: classical and British literature, creative writing, a smattering of science. The president of the English Club said that Steinbeck, who regularly attended meetings to read his stories aloud, “had no other interests or talents that I could make out. He was a writer, but he was that and nothing else” (Benson, p. 69). Writing was, indeed, his obsession. For five years the struggling author dropped in and out of the university, eventually taking off fall quarters to work for Spreckels Sugar in the factory near Salinas or on company ranches spread up and down the state. He worked closely with migrants and itinerants, and that association deepened his empathy for workers, the disenfranchised, the lonely, and the dislocated—an empathy that is a defining characteristic of his best work. Without taking a degree, he left Stanford for good in 1925, briefly tried construction work and newspaper reporting in New York City, and then returned to his native state in order to find leisure to hone his craft. During a three-year stint as a caretaker for a Lake Tahoe estate, he found the time both to write several drafts of his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929), and, at length, to woo a young woman vacationing at Lake Tahoe, Carol Henning, a San Jose native. After their marriage in 1930, he and Carol settled into the Steinbeck family’s summer cottage in Pacific Grove, she to search for jobs to support them, he to continue writing.

Works of the 1930s

During the 1930s Steinbeck wrote most of his best California fiction, from the stories composed in 1933–1934 and collected in The Long Valley (1938), to his recognized masterpieces: Tortilla Flat (1935), In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937), and The Grapes of Wrath (1939). But it took him the early years of the decade to test his stride, to polish his style, and to chart his fictional terrain. The prose in his first novel—the tale of Henry Morgan, pirate—is lush the artist who loved words strikes exotic chords and burdens sentences with modifiers. In the other apprentice novels, To a God Unknown (1933) and The Pastures of Heaven (1932), Latinate phrases are trimmed, adjectives are struck, and the setting shifts to California. To a God Unknown, second written and third published, tells of patriarch Joseph Wayne’s quest to tame and, at the same time, worship the land. Mystical and powerful, the novel testifies to Steinbeck’s awareness of an essential bond between man and nature. In a journal entry kept while working on this novel—a practice he continued all his life—the young author wrote, “The trees and the muscled mountains are the world—but not the world apart from man—the world and man—the one inseparable unit man and his environment. Why they should ever have been understood as being separate I do not know.” His conviction that characters must be seen in the context of their environments remained constant throughout his career. His was not a man-dominated universe but an interrelated whole, where species and the environment were seen to interact and where commensal bonds between people, among families, and with nature were acknowledged. The author observes life with a kind of scientific detachment, as The Pastures of Heaven demonstrates. Set in another tight California valley, this collection of loosely connected stories traces the lives of troubled, lonely, vulnerable farm families. By 1933 Steinbeck had found his terrain, had chiseled a prose style that was more naturalistic and far less strained, and had claimed his people—not the respectable, smug Salinas burghers, but those on the edges of polite society. Steinbeck’s California fiction, from To a God Unknown to East of Eden, envisions the dreams and defeats of common people shaped by the environments they inhabit.

Influential Figures in Steinbeck’s Life

Undoubtedly Steinbeck’s holistic vision was determined both by his early years roaming the Salinas hills and by his long and deep friendship with the remarkable Edward Flanders Ricketts, a marine biologist. Founder of Pacific Biological Laboratory, a marine lab eventually housed on Cannery Row in Monterey, Ricketts was a careful observer of intertidal life: “I grew to depend on his knowledge and on his patience in research,” Steinbeck writes in “About Ed Ricketts,” a lyrical tribute composed after his friend’s 1948 death and used as the preface to The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951). But Ricketts’s influence on Steinbeck struck far deeper than the common chord of detached observation. Ricketts was a lover of Gregorian chant and Bach, Spengler and Krishnamurti, and Walt Whitman and Li Po. His acceptance of people as they were and of life as he found it was remarkable, articulated by what he called nonteleological or “is” thinking. Steinbeck adapted the term and the stance. His fiction examines “what is.” The working title for Of Mice and Men was “Something That Happened.” Several seminal “Doc” figures in Steinbeck’s California fiction, all wise observers of life, epitomize the idealized stance: Doc Burton in In Dubious Battle, Slim in Of Mice and Men, Casy in The Grapes of Wrath, Lee in East of Eden, and of course Doc himself in Cannery Row (1945) and the sequel, the rollicking Sweet Thursday (1954). Ricketts, patient and thoughtful, a poet and a scientist, helped ground the author’s ideas. He was Steinbeck’s mentor, alter ego, and soul mate. Considering the depth of his eighteen-year friendship with Ricketts, it is hardly surprising that the bond acknowledged most frequently in Steinbeck’s oeuvre is friendship between and among men.

Steinbeck’s social consciousness of the 1930s was ignited by an equally compelling figure in his life, his wife Carol. She helped edit his prose, urged him to cut the Latinate phrases, typed his manuscripts, suggested titles, and offered ways to restructure. To write, Steinbeck needed buffers to keep the world at bay, and the gregarious and witty Carol willingly and eagerly fulfilled that role. In 1935, having finally published his first popular success with tales of Monterey’s paisanos, Tortilla Flat, Steinbeck, goaded by Carol, attended a few meetings of nearby Carmel’s John Reed Club. Although he found the group’s zealotry distasteful, he, like so many intellectuals of the 1930s, found the communists’ stance unassailable: workers suffered. Intending to write a “biography of a strikebreaker,” he interviewed a fugitive organizer, and from the words of that hounded man came not a biography but one of the best strike novels written in the twentieth century, In Dubious Battle. Not a partisan novel, it dissects with a steady hand both the ruthless organizers and the grasping landowners. The author focuses not on who will win the struggle between organizers and farmers but on how profound is the effect on the workers trapped in between, manipulated by both interests.

National Acclaim

At the height of his powers, Steinbeck followed this large canvas with two books that round out what might be called his labor trilogy. The tightly focused Of Mice and Men was one of the first in a long line of “experiments,” a word he often used to identify a forthcoming project. This “play-novelette,” a book that he intended to be both a novella and a script for a play, is a tightly drafted study of bindle stiffs whose dreams he intended to represent the universal longings for a home, “the earth longings of a Lennie who was not to represent insanity at all but the inarticulate and powerful yearning of all men,” he wrote his agent. Both the text and the critically acclaimed 1937 Broadway play (which won the Drama Critics Circle Award for best play that year) made Steinbeck a household name, assuring his popularity and, for some, his infamy. (The book’s language shocked many, and it is still listed with frequency on lists of “objectionable reading” or “banned books” for secondary school students.)

Steinbeck’s next novel intensified popular debate about his gritty subjects, his uncompromising sympathy for the disenfranchised, and his “crass” language. The Grapes of Wrath sold out an advance edition of 19,804 by mid-April 1939, was selling 10,000 copies a week by early May, and won the Pulitzer Prize for the year (1940). Published at the apex of the depression, the book about dispossessed farmers forced west captured the decade’s angst as well as the nation’s legacy of fierce individualism, visionary prosperity, and determined westward movement. It was, like the best of Steinbeck’s novels, informed in part by documentary zeal and in part by Steinbeck’s ability to trace mythic and biblical patterns. Lauded by critics nationwide for its scope and intensity, the book attracted an equally vociferous minority opinion. Oklahomans said that the story of the dispossessed Joads was a “dirty, lying, filthy manuscript,” in the words of Congressman Lyle Boren. Californians claimed the novel was a scourge on the state’s munificence, and an indignant Kern County, its migrant population burgeoning, banned the book well into World War II.

The author abandoned the field, exhausted from two years of research trips and personal commitment to the migrants’ woes, from a five-month push to write the final version, from a deteriorating marriage to Carol, and from an unnamed physical malady. He retreated to Ricketts and science, announcing his intention to study seriously marine biology and to plan a collecting trip to the Sea of Cortez. The text Steinbeck and Ricketts published in 1941, Sea of Cortez (reissued in 1951 without Ricketts’s catalog of species as The Log from the Sea of Cortez), tells the story of that expedition. It does more, however. The log portion that Steinbeck wrote (from Ricketts’s notes) in 1941—after having worked on a film in Mexico, The Forgotten Village (1941), and struggling with a manuscript about Cannery Row bums, “God in the Pipes”—contains his and Ricketts’s philosophical musings as well as keen observations on Mexican peasantry, hermit crabs, and “dryball” scientists. Quipped Lewis Gannett, there is “more of the whole man, John Steinbeck, than any of his novels.”

Less Successful Years

With the exception of the knotty and underrated Cannery Row, composed immediately after he returned from a four-month stint overseas as a war correspondent in 1943, Steinbeck’s work of the 1940s was less successful. His determination to shift directions was real enough. After writing The Grapes of Wrath, he declared that the novel was dead. He explored divergent paths: filmmaker, biologist, documentary historian (Bombs Away: The Story of a Bomber Team [1942]), and journalist. As war correspondent, he could make the commonplace intriguing (writing about the popularity of the song “Lilli Marlene” or his driver in London, Big Train Mulligan) and the uncommon riveting (as in his participation in a diversionary mission off the Italian coast). These columns were later collected in Once There Was a War (1958), and his postwar trip to Russia with Robert Capa in 1947 resulted in A Russian Journal (1948). During the 1940s Steinbeck published what many viewed as slight volumes, each a disappointment to critics who expected another tome to weigh in next to The Grapes of Wrath. By far the most fulsomely reviewed and controversial book of the decade was his first novel after Grapes, The Moon Is Down (1942). Set in an unnamed Northern European village, this play/novelette (his second experiment with this form he had invented) tells of a town’s resistance to what is obviously a Nazi invasion. The book, distributed by underground presses in occupied countries, inspired European readers and appalled many Americans. Two influential critics, James Thurber and Clifton Fadiman , declared in the nation’s most prestigious circulars that Steinbeck was “soft” on Germans—his were too understandably human—and that his text in fact threatened the war effort because the author suggested that resistance meant a dogged belief in democratic ideals. Critics’ barbs rankled the sensitive writer, as they had for years and would continue to throughout his career. Reviewers seemed either to misunderstand his biological naturalism or to expect him to compose another strident social critique like The Grapes of Wrath. Commonplace phrases such as “complete departure” or “unexpected” recurred in reviews of this and other “experimental” books of the 1950s and 1960s. A humorous text like Cannery Row struck many as fluff. In 1945 no reviewers recognized that the book’s central metaphor, the tidepool, suggested a way to read this nonteleological novel that examined the “specimen” who lived on Monterey’s Cannery Row, the street Steinbeck knew so well. Set in La Paz, Mexico, The Pearl (1947), a “folk tale … a black-white story like a parable,” he wrote his agent, tells of a young man who finds an exquisite pearl, loses his freedom in protecting his wealth, and finally throws back into the sea the cause of his woes. Reviews noted this as another slim volume by a major author. The Wayward Bus (1947), a “cosmic Bus,” sputtered as well.

Steinbeck faltered both professionally and personally in the 1940s. He divorced the loyal but volatile Carol in 1943. That same year he moved east with his second wife, Gwyndolyn Conger, a lovely and talented woman nearly twenty years his junior who ultimately resented his growing stature and felt that her own creativity as a singer had been stifled. With Gwyn, Steinbeck had two sons, but the marriage started falling apart shortly after the second son’s birth and ended in divorce in 1948. That same year Steinbeck was numbed by Ed Ricketts’s death. Only with concentrated work on a filmscript on the life of Emiliano Zapata for Elia Kazan’s film Viva Zapata! (1952) would Steinbeck gradually chart a new course. In 1949 he met and in 1950 married his third wife, Elaine Scott, and with her he moved again to New York City, where he lived for the rest of his life. Much of the pain and reconciliation of the late 1940s was worked out in two subsequent novels: his third play/novelette Burning Bright (1950), a boldly experimental parable about a man’s acceptance of his wife’s child fathered by another man, and the largely autobiographical work he had contemplated since the early 1930s, East of Eden.

“It is what I have been practicing to write all of my life,” he wrote to painter Bo Beskow early in 1948, when he first began research for a novel about his valley and his people (Steinbeck and Wallsten, p. 310). With Viva Zapata!, East of Eden, Burning Bright, and later The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), Steinbeck’s fiction became less concerned with the behavior of groups—what he called in the 1930s “group man”—and more focused on an individual’s moral responsibility to self and community. The detached perspective of the scientist gave way to a certain warmth the ubiquitous “self-character” that he claimed appeared in all his novels to comment and observe was modeled less on Ed Ricketts and more on John Steinbeck himself. Certainly with his divorce from Gwyn, Steinbeck had endured dark nights of the soul, and East of Eden contains those turbulent emotions surrounding the subjects of wife, children, family, and fatherhood. “In a sense it will be two books,” he wrote in his journal (posthumously published in 1969 as Journal of a Novel: The “East of Eden” Letters) as he began the final draft in 1951, “the story of my country and the story of me. And I shall keep these two separate.” Many dismissed as incoherent the two-stranded story of the Hamiltons, his mother’s family, and the Trasks, “symbol people” representing the story of Cain and Abel more recently critics have come to recognize that the epic novel explores the role of the artist as creator, a concern, in fact, in many of Steinbeck’s works.

Nobel Prize (1962)

Like The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden was a defining point in Steinbeck’s career. During the 1950s and 1960s the perpetually “restless” Steinbeck traveled extensively throughout the world with his beloved Elaine. With her, he became more social. Perhaps his writing suffered as a result some claim that even East of Eden, his most ambitious post-Grapes novel, cannot stand shoulder to shoulder with his searing social novels of the 1930s. In the fiction of his last two decades, however, Steinbeck never ceased to take risks, to stretch his conception of the novel’s structure, and to experiment with the sound and form of language. Sweet Thursday, the sequel to Cannery Row, was written as a musical comedy that would resolve Ricketts’s loneliness by sending him off into the sunset with a true love, Suzy, a whore with a gilded heart. The musical version by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein , Pipe Dream, was one of the team’s few failures. In 1957 Steinbeck published the satiric The Short Reign of Pippin IV, a tale about the French monarchy gaining ascendancy. In 1961 he published his last work of fiction, the ambitious The Winter of Our Discontent, a novel about contemporary America set in a fictionalized Sag Harbor (where he and Elaine had a summer home). Increasingly disillusioned with American greed, waste, and spongy morality—his own sons seemed textbook cases—he wrote his jeremiad, a lament for an ailing populace. The following year, 1962, Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature the day after the announcement, the New York Times ran an editorial, “Does a Writer with a Moral Vision of the 1930s Deserve the Nobel Prize?” by the influential Arthur Mizener . Wounded by the blindside attack, unwell, frustrated, and disillusioned, John Steinbeck wrote no more fiction.

But the writer John Steinbeck was not silenced. As always, he wrote reams of letters to his many friends and associates. In the 1950s and 1960s he published scores of journalistic pieces: “Making of a New Yorker,” “I Go Back to Ireland,” columns about the 1956 national conventions, and “letters to Alicia,” a controversial series about a 1966 White House–approved trip to Vietnam, where his sons were stationed. In the late 1950s—and intermittently for the rest of his life—he worked diligently on a modern English translation of a book he had loved since childhood, Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte d’Arthur the unfinished project was published posthumously as The Acts of King Arthur and his Noble Knights (1976).

Travels with Charley in Search of America

Immediately after completing Winter, the ailing novelist proposed “not a little trip of reporting,” he wrote to his agent Elizabeth Otis, “but a frantic last attempt to save my life and the integrity of my creativity pulse” (Benson, p. 882). In a camper truck designed to his specification, he toured America in 1960. After his return, he published the highly praised “pungent potpourri of places and people” (Benson, p. 913), Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), another book that both celebrates American individuals and decries American hypocrisy the climax of his journey is his visit to the New Orleans “cheerleaders” who daily taunt black children newly registered in white schools. His disenchantment with American waste, greed, and immorality ran deep. His last published book, America and Americans (1966), reconsiders the American character, the land, the racial crisis, and the crumbling will. In these late years, in fact after his final move to New York in 1950, many accused him of increasing conservatism. It was true that with greater wealth came the chance to spend money more freely, and with status came political opportunities that seemed out of step for a “radical” of the 1930s. He initially defended Lyndon Johnson ’s views on the war with Vietnam (although Steinbeck died before he could, as he wished, qualify his initial responses), and he expressed intolerance for 1960s protesters whose zeal, in his eyes, was unfocused.

But the author who wrote The Grapes of Wrath never really retreated into conservatism. He lived in modest houses all his life, caring little for lavish displays of power or wealth. He preferred talking to ordinary citizens wherever he traveled, sympathizing always with the disenfranchised. He was a Stevenson Democrat in the 1950s he was never a communist in the 1930s, and after three trips to Russia (1937, 1947, and 1963) he hated Soviet repression. In fact, neither during his life nor after has the paradoxical Steinbeck been an easy author to pigeonhole personally, politically, or artistically. As a man, he was an introvert and at the same time had a romantic streak, was impulsive, garrulous, a lover of jests and word play and practical jokes. As an artist, he was a ceaseless experimenter with words and form, and often critics did not “see” quite what he was up to. He claimed his books had “layers,” yet many claimed his symbolic touch was cumbersome. He loved humor and warmth, but some said he slopped over into sentimentalism. He was, and is now recognized as, an environmental writer. He was an intellectual, interested in inventions, jazz, politics, philosophies, history, and myth, quite a range for an author sometimes labeled simplistic by academe and the eastern critical establishment. Steinbeck died in New York City.

All said, Steinbeck remains one of America’s most significant twentieth-century writers. His popularity spans the world, his range is impressive, and his output was prodigious: sixteen novels a collection of short stories four screenplays (The Forgotten Village, The Red Pony, The Pearl, and Viva Zapata!) a sheaf of journalistic essays, including four collections (The Harvest Gypsies, Bombs Away, Once There Was a War, and America and Americans) three travel narratives (Sea of Cortez, A Russian Journal, and Travels with Charley) a translation and two journals. Three play/novelettes ran on Broadway—Of Mice and Men, The Moon Is Down, and Burning Bright—as well as one musical, Pipe Dream. Whatever his experiment in prose, he wrote with empathy, clarity, and perspicuity: “In every bit of honest writing in the world,” he noted in a 1938 journal entry, “there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love.”

Bibliography

Steinbeck’s papers are distributed in several major collections: Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries the Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin the Center for Steinbeck Studies, San Jose State University John Steinbeck Library, Salinas the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley the Pierpont Morgan Library and Special Collections, Columbia University. The most exhaustive biography is Jackson Benson, The True Adventures of John Steinbeck, Writer (1984). See also Jay Parini, John Steinbeck, a Biography (1995). Essential biographical sources are also Steinbeck: A Life in Letters, ed. with notes by Elaine Steinbeck and Robert Wallsten (1975), and Steinbeck’s letters to his agent, Letters to Elizabeth: A Selection of Letters from John Steinbeck to Elizabeth Otis, ed. Florian J. Shasky and Susan F. Riggs (1978). The most complete bibliography of primary works is Adrian H. Goldstone and John R. Payne, A Bibliographical Catalogue of the Adrian H. Goldstone Collection (1974) bibliographies of secondary works are Robert DeMott, John Steinbeck: A Checklist of Books by and About (1987), and Warren French, “John Steinbeck,” in Sixteen Modern American Authors (1989), pp. 582–622. Critical reviews of Steinbeck’s work have been collected in John Steinbeck: The Contemporary Reviews, ed. Joseph R. McElrath, Jesse S. Crisler, and Susan Shillinglaw (1996). Good secondary studies of the writer are the pioneering works by Peter Lisca, The Wide World of John Steinbeck (1958), followed by John Steinbeck: Nature and Myth (1978). A solid and brief overview is Paul McCarthy, John Steinbeck (1980) a more extended analysis is Louis Owens, John Steinbeck’s Re-vision of America (1985). Essential for an understanding of the Steinbeck/Ricketts relationship is Richard Astro, John Steinbeck and Edward F. Ricketts: The Shaping of a Novelist (1973), and essays in Steinbeck and the Environment, ed. Susan Beegel, Shillinglaw, and Wes Tiffney (1996). See Joseph R. Millichap, Steinbeck and Film (1983), for a solid introduction to the subject. An excellent collection of essays is Jackson J. Benson, ed., The Short Novels of John Steinbeck: Critical Essays with a Checklist to Steinbeck Criticism (1990).


“Steinbeck to Springsteen” 1939-2006


Cover art for 1939 hardback edition of “The Grapes of Wrath,” published by Viking Press, New York. Cover illustration by Elmer Hader. Click for 75th anniversary edition.

The Grapes of Wrath is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel written by John Steinbeck in 1939. Not only was this book a landmark social commentary in its day and a major publishing success, it became an award-winning and profitable Hollywood film, and also inspired at least two rounds of music — one by Woody Guthrie in 1940 and another by Bruce Springsteen in the 1990s. First, the book.

The Grapes of Wrath focuses on a poor family of Oklahoma sharecroppers named the Joads who are driven from their home and land during the 1930s Dust Bowl and Great Depression. The story tracks the family’s near hopeless situation as they set out for California along with thousands of other “Okies” in search of land, jobs, and dignity. Along the way they face suspicion and contempt, and once in California they are harassed and persecuted as transient labor, exploited by wealthy farm owners and their hired police. All of this has a radicalizing effect on the novel’s main character, Tom Joad, who starts thinking in broader social terms, beyond himself — part of the message Steinbeck intends.

John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California in 1902. His father served as the county treasurer his mother was a teacher. He graduated from the local high school in 1919, working summers as a hired hand on California farms and ranches. Attending Stanford University for six years without obtaining a degree, he decided in 1925 to pursue a writing career in New York. There, while writing, he also worked as a bricklayer, reporter, and manual laborer, but failed to find a publisher. He returned to California in 1927 where a series of novels followed — Cup of Gold, The Pastures of Heaven, and To a God Unknown — all of which were poorly received. Better notices and critical success came with Tortilla Flat in 1935, In Dubious Battle in 1936, and Of Mice and Men in 1937. Steinbeck then traveled to Oklahoma, where he joined a group of farmers embarking for California, living and working with one family for two years. This experience became the basis for The Grapes of Wrath.

Joad is first seen returning home to Oklahoma after a jail sentence for killing a man in a brawl, only to find a devastated landscape with local farms being repossessed by the banks. Tom and an itinerant preacher accompany Tom’s family on their trek to California over highway 66. Through Tom Joad, Steinbeck builds a slow-burn anger and sense of injustice over the migrants’ misery. The book was publicly banned in some places, burned in others, and heatedly debated on the radio. They are plagued not only by bad weather and misfortune, but by exploitive California farmers who deliberately degrade the migrants to keep them powerless. The book proves a powerful tale of social injustice.

At its release, The Grapes of Wrath became controversial and something of a national event. In fact, the book was publicly banned in some places and burned in others (see Rick Wartzman book & interview in Sources). It was heatedly debated on the radio. Reviewers were initially split. Some loved it, others were highly critical. One reviewer for the London Times named it “one of the most arresting [novels] of its time.” Newsweek called the book a “mess of silly propaganda, superficial observation, careless infidelity to the proper use of idiom, tasteless pornographical and scatagorical talk.”A reviewer for the New York Times, although critical of the book’s plot structure, said: “. . . Steinbeck has written a novel from the depth’s of his heart with a sincerity seldom equaled. It may be an exaggeration, but it is the exaggeration of an honest and splendid writer.” The Associated Farmers of California, displeased with the book’s depiction of California farmers, denounced the book as a “pack of lies” also calling it “communist propaganda”.


Oklahoma refugees in California, 1935.

The Grapes of Wrath did help to improve migrant conditions, but it also brought threats on Steinbeck’s life, charges that he was a Communist, and surveillance by the FBI. Steinbeck continued his career as a writer, publishing other notable works, including: The Moon Is Down (1942) Cannery Row (1945) The Pearl (1947) East of Eden (1952), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961) Travels With Charley (1962) and others. Seventeen of his works went on to become films, and he also worked as a Hollywood writer. In 1962, Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature with the Nobel committee citing the Grapes of Wrath as a “great work” and one of the committee’s main reasons for granting Steinbeck the Prize. The copyright for The Grapes of Wrath was renewed in John Steinbeck’s name in 1967. At the 50th anniversary of the book in 1989, it had sold close to 4.5 million copies in the U.S. alone, with worldwide sales then reaching about 14 million. Paperbacks were then selling at a rate of about 100,000 a year.

Hollywood Film


1940 poster for the Grapes of Wrath film, includes image of book and Steinbeck's name. Click for poster.

Zanuck, however, was nervous about the novel’s hard left political views and sent private investigators to Oklahoma to check out the “Okies” predicament first hand. Finding them true to life, Zanuk became confident he could defend attacks that the film was pro-Communist. But Zanuck also watered down the novel’s tone for the film, departing from the book in places, which some believe made story more saleable to the public.

The film had an excellent cast, including Henry Fonda playing Tom Joad, Jane Darwell as Ma Joad, and John Carradine as the itinerant ex-preacher, Jim Casy. Production ran from early October 1939 through mid-November 1939. It premiered in New York City and Los Angeles in late January 1940 and to the wider public in mid- March 1940.

“The Joads step right out of the pages of the novel that has shocked millions!,” said one of the studio’s promotional pieces. At its release the film was very well received, but like the book, still had its detractors for its leftist political tone. Still, the movie helped to keep Steinbeck’s book on the bestseller list.

The movie won Oscars for best director, John Ford, and best actress, Jane Darwell as Ma Joad. It was also nominated in five other categories, including best actor for Henry Fonda’s role, and best picture, losing that year to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca. Through the 1950s, The Grapes of Wrath was often named the greatest American film, though in subsequent years it was outranked by other films, such as Citizen Kane. But the American Film Institute still ranks it among the top 50 films of all time, and the Library of Congress has designated it for historic film preservation. VHS versions of the film were released in 1988 by a division of CBS/Fox, and again in 1998 by 20th Century Fox for its Studio Classic series. A DVD version with extra commentary and historical information was released in April 2004 by 20th Century Fox Entertainment.

In one 2002 film review, Roger Ebert wrote: “The novel and movie do last, I think, because they are founded in real experience and feeling. . . .The Grapes of Wrath shows half a nation with the economic rug pulled out from under it. The story, which seems to be about the resiliency and courage of ‘the people,’ is built on a foundation of fear: Fear of losing jobs, land, self-respect. To those who had felt that fear, who had gone hungry or been homeless, it would never become dated. . .”

Woody & Bruce

Among those who first saw the film in 1940 was Depression-era balladeer Woody Guthrie. In fact, Guthrie was so moved by what he saw at a New York screening that he wrote a long song about the film immediately after viewing it. Set to the tune of “John Hardy,” Guthrie’s “The Ballad of Tom Joad” summarizes the The Grapes of Wrath story in a 17-verse song. Folk singer Pete Seeger, who saw Guthrie that night, has described how Guthrie set about writing the song:

…He said, “Pete, do you know where I can get a typewriter?” I said, “I’m staying with someone who has one.”

“Well, I got to write a ballad,” he said. “I don’t usually write ballads to order, but Victor [the record company] wants me to do a whole album of Dust Bowl songs, and they say they want one about Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath.”

. . . He went along to the place where I was staying — six flights walking up — on East Fourth Street. The friend I was staying with [Jerry Oberwager] said, “Sure, you can use my typewriter.”

Woody had a half-gallon jug of wine with him, sat down and started typing away. He would stand up every few seconds and test out a verse on his guitar and sit down and type some more. About one o’clock my friend and I got so sleepy we couldn’t stay awake. In the morning we found Woody curled up on the floor under the table the half gallon of wine was almost empty and the completed ballad was sitting near the typewriter….


Henry Fonda as Tom Joad in the 1939 film version of The Grapes of Wrath.

Guthrie, in his own plain style, also wrote about seeing the film in one of his columns for the People’s World, praising its directness:

“. . . Shows the damn bankers men that broke us and the dust that choked us, and comes right out in plain old English and says what to do about it.” Guthrie urged his readers to go see the film. “. . .You was the star in that picture,” he wrote, meaning his everyman readers. “Go and see your own self and hear your own words . . .”

Guthrie’s song, meanwhile, “The Ballad of Tom Joad,” was first recorded at RCA Studios, Camden, New Jersey, April 1940 and released on an album titled Dust Bowl Ballads in July 1940.

Later albums, also including the “Tom Joad” song, were released in 1964 and another in 1977 by RCA under the title, Woody Guthrie: A Legendary Performer. A CD version was released in 1988 and is also available in a newer CD version by Buddha Records, released in 2000, with some extras. But Woody Guthrie’s song on The Grapes of Wrath tale wouldn’t be the last such music.

In November 1995, rock star Bruce Springsteen, who had risen to fame in the 1980s with hard-driving rock ‘n roll music that often captured working-class concerns and themes, released an album titled The Ghost of Tom Joad. This album, a more acoustic-styled collection of tunes rather his normal rock ‘n roll fare, is supported by guitar, piano and harmonica. Its title track directly references the Grapes of Wrath’s main character (see lyrics below).

The album also features other songs that focus on the lives of steelworkers, illegal immigrants, and migrant farmers. Springsteen’s single from the album, “The Ghost of Tom Joad” was later covered by the alternative metal rock group Rage Against the Machine on a November 1998 CD single and a 2001 album. In 2006, the song was covered again on a EP by Swedish indie/folk singer-songwriter and classical guitarist José González who is affiliated with the group Junip.

“The Ghost of Tom Joad”
Bruce Springsteen
1995

Men walkin’ `long the railroad tracks
Goin’ someplace there’s no goin’ back
Highway patrol choppers comin’ up
over the ridge
Hot soup on a campfire under the bridge
Shelter line stretchin’ round the corner
Welcome to the new world order
Families sleepin’ in their cars in the
southwest
No home no job no peace no rest.

The highway is alive tonight
But nobody’s kiddin’ nobody about
where it goes
I’m sittin’ down here in the campfire light
Searchin’ for the ghost of Tom Joad.

He pulls prayer book out of his sleeping bag
Preacher lights up a butt and takes a drag
Waitin’ for when the last shall be first and
the first shall be last
In a cardboard box `neath the underpass
Got a one-way ticket to the promised land
You got a hole in your belly and gun in
your hand
Sleeping on a pillow of solid rock
Bathin’ in the city aqueduct.

The highway is alive tonight
But where it’s headed everybody knows
I’m sittin’ down here in the campfire light
Waitin’ on the ghost of Tom Joad.
Now Tom said, “Mom,wherever there’s
a cop beatin’ a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there’s a fight `gainst the blood
and hatred in the air
Look for me Mom, I’ll be there
Wherever there’s somebody fightin’ for
a place to stand
Or decent job or a helpin’ hand
Wherever somebody’s strugglin’ to be free
Look in their eyes Mom you’ll see me.”

“Best Book” Kudos

The Grapes of Wrath today is regarded as one of the great American novels of the 20th century and remains one of the world’s most famous books. It is frequently cited on “best book” lists that appear from time to time. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked The Grapes of Wrath at No. 10 on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

In 1999, French newspaper Le Monde ranked The Grapes of Wrath No. 7 on its list of the 100 best books of the 20th century. In the U.K., the book was listed at No. 29 of the “nation’s best loved novel” on a BBC 2003 survey.

Time magazine in 2005 included the novel in its listing of the “100 Best English-Language Novels from 1923 to 2005″. The Daily Telegraph of London in 2009 included the novel as well in its list of � novels everyone should read”.

As for the film, which is also highly regarded, although it deviates from the book at the end, a special DVD with supplemental historian commentary was released in April 2004 by 20th Century Fox Entertainment. And in July 2013, Steven Spielberg announced plans to do a remake of The Grapes of Wrath film.


75th Anniversary

At the 75th anniversary of the publication of The Grapes of Wrath in April 2014, there was renewed attention bestowed on the book and its author, with commemorative events occurring throughout the year at numerous museums, schools, universities, and book festivals. Viking-Penguin, the book’s original publisher, issued a special “75th Anniversary Edition” with the original cover art for the hardback book jacket by artist Elmer Hader.

The School of Arts and Humanities at California State University at Bakersfield began its celebration of Steinbeck’s novel in October 2013 with a continued schedule of events in a number of state-wide venues through 2014.

The Center for Steinbeck Studies at California State University at San Jose and the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California also commemorated the 75th anniversary with special programs. The Steinbeck Center launched a “Grapes of Wrath” oral history collection project to document present-day Joad family difficulties and share those stories online and at public programs – part of the 2014 National Steinbeck Festival.

A number of authors and Steinbeck scholars also commemorated The Grapes of Wrath’s 75th anniversary, some offering special papers, essays, and lectures. In April 2014, for example, a Washington Post essay by historian Susan Shillinglaw, made a case for remembering the migrant women of The Grapes of Wrath – and the “Ma Joad” character in particular.


Scene from 1940 film, “The Grapes of Wrath,” from left: Doris Bowdon as “Rosasharn,” Jane Darwell as Ma Joad, and Henry Fonda as Tom Joad.

In her piece, Shillinglaw also noted the role of Steinbeck’s wife, Carol, in shaping the book and pushing her husband along, also responsible for selecting “The Grapes of Wrath” title, taken from the opening lines of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

For additional stories at this website on “Print & Publishing,” please see that category page – and also the “Film & Hollywood” category page for other book-to-film stories. Thanks for visiting – and if you like what you find here please make a donation to help support the research and writing at this website. Thank you. – Jack Doyle

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DatePosted: 29 March 2008
Last Update: 11 April 2019
Comments to: [email protected]

Article Citation:
Jack Doyle, “Steinbeck to Springsteen, 1939-2006,”
PopHistoryDig.com, March 29, 2008.

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Sources, Links & Additional Information


Author John Steinbeck, circa 1930.


Cover of Rick Wartzman’s 2008 book, depicting p. 4 of “The Grapes of Wrath” in flames, apropos his book’s subject, i.e., the burning and banning of Steinbeck's book. Click for book.


In 1979, the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp featuring John Steinbeck, which began the Postal Service’s Literary Arts series honoring American writers. The stamp was issued on what would have been Steinbeck’s 77th birthday, Feb. 27th.

“Speaking of Pictures. . . These By Life Prove Facts in ‘Grapes of Wrath’,” Life, January 19, 1940 (with photos of Horace Bristow).

Edwin Schallert, “ ‘Grapes of Wrath’ [film] Due for Much Controversy,” Los Angeles Times, January 23, 1940, p. 8.

Richard Griffith, “Gotham ‘Goes Overboard’ on Steinbeck Picture,” Los Angeles Times, February 5, 1940, p. A-14.

“Novel Flayed in [State] House Californian Denounces ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ in Migrant Aid Debate,” Los Angeles Times, March 12, 1940, p. 2.

The Grapes of Wrath, “ 20th-Century American Bestsellers ,” Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, 2006.

“The American Novel,” American Masters, �, The Grapes of Wrath,” PBS, a production of Thirteen/WNET New York, March 2007.

C-Span “Book TV” interview with Rick Wartzman, author of Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck’s the Grapes of Wrath, PublicAffairs Press, September 2008.

Susan Shillinglaw, A Journey into Steinbeck’s California, Roaring Forties Press, 2006. Shillinglaw is scholar-in-residence at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California, San Jose State University.

Woody Guthrie, article in one of his People’s World columns (1940), reprinted in Woody Sez, New York, NY, 1975, p. 133.

Woody Guthrie, American Folksong, New York, 1961 (reprint of 1947 edition), p. 25.

Pete Seeger, The Incompleat Folksinger, New York, NY, 1972, p. 44.

W.J. Weatherby, “Mighty Words of Wrath,” The Guardian, Monday April 17, 1989.

Library of Congress, “ Forgotten People ” exhibit, Depression Era/migrant worker sketchbook of Dorthea Lange & Paul Taylor.

DVD Talk Review , Grapes of Wrath film review by Glenn Erickson.

For a more recent perspective on Steinbeck’s work re: current economic conditions, see: Rachel Dry, “A Recession Only Steinbeck Could Love,” Washington Post, Outlook, Sunday, March 22, 2009, p. B-1.

Rick Wartzman, Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Public Affairs, September 1, 2008.

“Interview with Rick Wartzman, Author, Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck’s the Grapes of Wrath (PublicAffairs Press, September 2008), BookTV/C-Span.org, September 28, 2008.

Nicole Cohen, “Last Chance To Read ‘Grapes Of Wrath’ Before It Turns 75,” NPR.org, February 17, 2014.

Robin Young & Jeremy Hobson,“Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes Of Wrath’ Marks 75th Anniversary,” Here & Now / WBUR (Boston /NPR), Monday, April 14, 2014.

Susan Shillinglaw, “Ma Joad for President: 75 Years Later, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ Reveals the Leader America Needs,” Washington Post, Sunday, April 16, 2014.


Further Reading

There is no biography of Steinbeck. Critical studies of his work are Harry T. Moore, The Novels of John Steinbeck: A First Critical Study (1939 2d ed. 1968), and Peter Lisca, The Wide World of John Steinbeck (1958). Peter Covici, ed., The Portable Steinbeck (1943 3d ed. 1963), contains an extensive introduction to the writer and his works by Louis Gannett. For brief but important criticism see Edmund Wilson, The Boys in the Back Room (1941), and those chapters devoted to Steinbeck in such studies of American literature as Maxwell Geismar, Writers in Crisis (1942) Wilbur M. Frohock, The Novel of Violence in America, 1920-1950 (1950 2d ed. 1957) and Frederick J. Hoffman, The Modern Novel in America (1951). The most comprehensive collection of Steinbeck criticism is E. W. Tedlock, Jr., and C. V. Wicker, eds., Steinbeck and His Critics: A Record of Twenty-five Years (1957). □


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