John Steinbeck Susan Shillinglaw Biography & Facts
John Ernst Steinbeck Jr. (; February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968) was an American writer and the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature winner "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humor and keen social perception." He has been called "a giant of American letters."During his writing career, he authored 33 books, with one book coauthored alongside Edward Ricketts, including 16 novels, six non-fiction books, and two collections of short stories. He is widely known for the comic novels Tortilla Flat (1935) and Cannery Row (1945), the multi-generation epic East of Eden (1952), and the novellas The Red Pony (1933) and Of Mice and Men (1937). The Pulitzer Prize–winning The Grapes of Wrath (1939) is considered Steinbeck's masterpiece and part of the American literary canon. In the first 75 years after it was published, it sold 14 million copies.Most of Steinbeck's work is set in central California, particularly in the Salinas Valley and the California Coast Ranges region. His works frequently explored the themes of fate and injustice, especially as applied to downtrodden or everyman protagonists.
Steinbeck was born on February 27, 1902, in Salinas, California. He was of German, English, and Irish descent. Johann Adolf Großsteinbeck (1828–1913), Steinbeck's paternal grandfather, was a founder of Mount Hope, a short-lived messianic farming colony in Palestine that disbanded after attackers killed his brother and raped his brother's wife and mother-in-law. He arrived in the United States in 1858, shortening the family name to Steinbeck. The family farm in Heiligenhaus, Mettmann, Germany, is still named "Großsteinbeck".
His father, John Ernst Steinbeck (1862–1935), served as Monterey County treasurer. John's mother, Olive Hamilton (1867–1934), a former school teacher, shared Steinbeck's passion for reading and writing. The Steinbecks were members of the Episcopal Church, although Steinbeck later became agnostic. Steinbeck lived in a small rural valley (no more than a frontier settlement) set in some of the world's most fertile soil, about 25 miles from the Pacific Coast. Both valley and coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. He spent his summers working on nearby ranches including the Post Ranch in Big Sur. He later labored with migrant workers on Spreckels sugar beet farms. There he learned of the harsher aspects of the migrant life and the darker side of human nature, which supplied him with material expressed in Of Mice and Men. He explored his surroundings, walking across local forests, fields, and farms. While working at Spreckels Sugar Company, he sometimes worked in their laboratory, which gave him time to write. He had considerable mechanical aptitude and fondness for repairing things he owned.
Steinbeck graduated from Salinas High School in 1919 and went on to study English literature at Stanford University near Palo Alto, leaving without a degree in 1925. He traveled to New York City where he took odd jobs while trying to write. When he failed to publish his work, he returned to California and worked in 1928 as a tour guide and caretaker at Lake Tahoe, where he met Carol Henning, his first wife. They married in January 1930 in Los Angeles, where, with friends, he attempted to make money by manufacturing plaster mannequins.When their money ran out six months later due to a slow market, Steinbeck and Carol moved back to Pacific Grove, California, to a cottage owned by his father, on the Monterey Peninsula a few blocks outside the Monterey city limits. The elder Steinbecks gave John free housing, paper for his manuscripts, and from 1928, loans that allowed him to write without looking for work. During the Great Depression, Steinbeck bought a small boat, and later claimed that he was able to live on the fish and crabs that he gathered from the sea, and fresh vegetables from his garden and local farms. When those sources failed, Steinbeck and his wife accepted welfare, and on rare occasions, stole bacon from the local produce market. Whatever food they had, they shared with their friends. Carol became the model for Mary Talbot in Steinbeck's novel Cannery Row.In 1930, Steinbeck met the marine biologist Ed Ricketts, who became a close friend and mentor to Steinbeck during the following decade, teaching him a great deal about philosophy and biology. Ricketts, usually very quiet, yet likable, with an inner self-sufficiency and an encyclopedic knowledge of diverse subjects, became a focus of Steinbeck's attention. Ricketts had taken a college class from Warder Clyde Allee, a biologist and ecological theorist, who would go on to write a classic early textbook on ecology. Ricketts became a proponent of ecological thinking, in which man was only one part of a great chain of being, caught in a web of life too large for him to control or understand. Meanwhile, Ricketts operated a biological lab on the coast of Monterey, selling biological samples of small animals, fish, rays, starfish, turtles, and other marine forms to schools and colleges.
Between 1930 and 1936, Steinbeck and Ricketts became close friends. Steinbeck's wife began working at the lab as secretary-bookkeeper. Steinbeck helped on an informal basis. They formed a common bond based on their love of music and art, and John learned biology and Ricketts' ecological philosophy. When Steinbeck became emotionally upset, Ricketts sometimes played music for him.
Steinbeck's first novel, Cup of Gold, published in 1929, is loosely based on the life and death of privateer Henry Morgan. It centers on Morgan's assault and sacking of Panamá Viejo, sometimes referred to as the "Cup of Gold", and on the women, brighter than the sun, who were said to be found there. In 1930, Steinbeck wrote a werewolf murder mystery, Murder at Full Moon, that has never been published because Steinbeck considered it unworthy of publication.Between 1930 and 1933, Steinbeck produced three shorter works. The Pastures of Heaven, published in 1932, consists of twelve interconnected stories about a valley near Monterey, which was discovered by a Spanish corporal while chasing runaway Indian slaves. In 1933 Steinbeck published The Red Pony, a 100-page, four-chapter story weaving in memories of Steinbeck's childhood. To a God Unknown, named after a Vedic hymn, follows the life of a homesteader and his family in California, depicting a character with a primal and pagan worship of the land he works. Although he had not achieved the status of a well-known writer, he never doubted that he would achieve greatness.Steinbeck achieved his first critical success with Tortilla Flat (1935), a novel set in post-war Monterey, California, that won the California Commonwealth Club's Gold Medal. It portrays the adventures of a group of classless and usually homeless young men in Monterey after World War I, just before U.S. prohibition. They are portrayed in ironic comparison to .... Discover the John Steinbeck Susan Shillinglaw popular books. Find the top 100 most popular John Steinbeck Susan Shillinglaw books.