John Steinbeck was born in February 27, 1902 in Salinas, California. Salinas was an agricultural valley in California. His father was the county treasurer and his mother was a schoolteacher. This is where his education began from a mother that encouraged him to read. The community was a comfortable environment for him to live in because of the encouragement of independence and initiative. His parents didn’t want him to be a writer. They wanted him to have a true profession as a lawyer.
His early interest in reading led him through school, with his main interest in science. At age 15 he decided to become a writer, influenced by an English teacher, and faintly remembered by schoolmates for spending so much time in his room writing. After graduating from high school, he went to Stanford University in 1920. While he was there for five he contributed to the school paper by writing poems and comics. He took courses in science and writing, but never received a degree. In 1925, when he left Stanford, he became a marine biologist.
He moved to New York in 1925 to work as a reporter for a newspaper. Always being a non-conformist, he was fired from the newspaper for writing opinions instead of facts. This started the many jobs he would be a part of in his lifetime. Some of these jobs include an apprentice hod carrier, an apprentice printer, a working chemist, caretaker of Lake Tahoe Estate, surveyor in Big Sur County, and a fruit picker. He also worked other more physically labored jobs, such as a rancher, road worker, deck hand, cotton picker, and bricklayer. While involved in these jobs, he made many close friends that he came to admire because of their “cant and hypocrisy” which he applauded and whom all of these people soon were characters in his novels. Many of these experiences were the “helpers” to his many novels. His fruit picking and Great Depression led him to write The Grapes of Wrath, his best known and most ambitious of his works. Also, he wrote Of Mice and Men, which was formed from his job as a hired hand on the many farms he worked.
Many things affected his writing of the time period of which he wrote. Things like the Great Depression, World War 2, and the Vietnam War are the major influences. World War 2 was when he was working for the federal government as a writer, so his works focused on greed and materialism in the beings of modern civilization, Cannery Row and The Wayward Bus are two good examples of this idea. After World War 2, he wrote mainly of several outcasts. The Grapes of Wrath was an influential piece from the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl that existed in California. It is about the migration of farm families, leaving their old towns to become “ghost towns.”
A bit of inventions came into effect during this time period. Technology was changing the way that Americans lived and worked. The player piano was invented in 1905. Henry Ford Model T in 1908. Everyone has heard of the Titanic right? Well, it sunk in 1912. One of the most important things that has ever happened in history occurred in 1921. Yes, your right, it was the date of the first Miss America Pageant. The Great Depression began in 1928. The great Golden Gate Bridge was also completed in 1937.
John Steinbeck and F. Scott Fitzgerald seemed to divide America up into a new age or era. Fitzgerald seemed to work more with the rich, finding pity and terror in them. Steinbeck took to the growing of California, the Depression, and poverty.
John Steinbeck won the Pulitzer Prize award for his book The Grapes of Wrath in 1940. He also won the Nobel Peace Prize award in 1962. He was the sixth American to win the Nobel Prize for literature. His novel, Tortilla Flat, received the California Commonwealth Club’s annual gold medal for the best novel by a California writer. It was adopted for the stage and sold to Hollywood.
He focused somewhat on nature, with some “humor,” but seemed to have sympathy for “the oppressed, misfits, and the distressed.” He wrote about conflicts between his feelings for nature and his sympathy for human beings. To be natural and not respectable, was in his fiction, the controlling force of the universe. He was best known for his basis on the American experience often with sympathetic focus on the poor, eccentric, or the dispossessed.
The Grapes of Wrath, which he wrote in 1939, was his best known and most famous work. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1940. This book consisted of a family that migrated from the Dust Bowl to California to finally experience death, disease, and starvation. This book, like many of his works, turned out to also be a famous movie.
He was married 3 times. He fathered two boys to his second wife. Their names were John and Tom.
John Steinbeck died on December 20, 1968 in New York City. We searched if he died if some kind of illness, but we found nothing. So he must have died of natural causes.