“Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts… perhaps the fear of a loss of power.” — John Steinbeck
English: John Steinbeck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. was born on this day in Salinas, California in 1902. Today is the 111st anniversary of his birth.
John Steinbeck home (Photo credit: sjb4photos)
His father was the treasurer for Monterey County, California. His mother, who had been a school teacher, instilled a love a reading and writing in he young Steinbeck. He graduated from high school in 1919 and went to Stanford University.
He worked his way through college at Stanford University but never graduated. In 1925 he went to New York, where he tried for a few years to establish himself as a free-lance writer, but he failed and returned to California. [Nobel Prize.org]
Back on California he met and married his first wife,Carol Henning, but he struggled to find work as a writer. For the first few years of the Great Depression his parents supported the junior Steinbecks and gave them a cottage to live in. “Steinbeck first became widely known with Tortilla Flat
(1935), a series of humorous stories about Monterey paisanos.”
Of Mice and Men (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The 1930s was …
his most productive decade, he wrote several novels about his native California, including Tortilla Flat
(1935), set in Monterey; In Dubious Battle
(1936), about fruit-pickers on strike in a California valley; and Of Mice and Men
(1937), set on a ranch in Soledad, southeast of Steinbeck’s birth town. [Writer’s Almanac]
He had worked on local farms and ranches during the summers when he was growing up and he wrote from that first hand observation of the struggles of migrants and farm workers in his novels.
Cover of The Grapes of Wrath
In 1939 he published what is considered his best work, The Grapes of Wrath,
the story of Oklahoma tenant farmers who, unable to earn a living from the land, moved to California where they became migratory workers. [Nobel Prize.org]
He won a Pulitzer Prize for the novel.
Steinbeck became a war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune
during World War II. He wrote from the Mediterranean and North Africa. He collected some of those stories in There Was a War
Cover of Viva Zapata! [Region 2]
After the war he wrote Cannery Row and the screenplay for Lifeboat for Alfred Hitchcock. He recycled his characters from Tortilla Flat for the film A Medal for Benny. And he wrote The Pearl, which also was turned quickly into a movie. Followed by the screenplay for Viva Zapata!
East of Eden (novel) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
He considered his next novel, East of Eden, his masterpiece. Other late works include …
The Winter of Our Discontent
(1961), and Travels with Charley
(1962), a travelogue in which Steinbeck wrote about his impressions during a three-month tour in a truck that led him through forty American states. He died in New York City in 1968. [Nobel Prize.org]
He died six years later, in 1968, of congestive heart failure in New York City.