"The Grapes of Wrath" is a classic novel by the American author John Steinbeck originally published in 1939. The book became a huge topic of discussion in the country at the time and was both hated and loved by Americans. It was the best-selling book in the country the year it was released and over […]
John Ernst Steinbeck
John Ernst Steinbeck was an American novelist and short-story writer, who described in his work the unending struggle of people who depend on working in the soil for their livelihood.
Steinbeck was born on February 27th, 1902 in Salinas, California and educated at Stanford University. As a young man, Steinbeck worked on a ranch as a fruit picker.
In 1925, when he was in his early twenties, Steinbeck moved to New York City and began trying to form a career as a writer. He was unsuccessful, and 3 years later moved back to California to work as a tour guide at Lake Tahoe. It was there that he met his first wife, Carol Henning and the two married two years later in 1930.
He soon moved into a cottage owned by his father and began writing with the gift of paper from older family members. During the Great Depression of the 1930's, Steinbeck later claimed that he and his wife survived off of fish that he caught himself and vegetables from his own garden.
In 1929, Steinbeck's first novel "Cup of Gold" was published. It is a novel based on the life of privateer Henry Morgan.
In the early 1930's, Steinbeck produced several shorter novels and in 1935 he produced his first successful novel called, "Tortilla Flat". The novel won the California Commonwealth Club's Gold Medal and in 1942 the book was adapted into a film starring Spencer Tracy and Hedy Lamarr.
It was also during this time that Steinbeck began writing a series of so-called "California novels" and Dust Bowl fiction that were set among normal, salt of the earth people during the time of the Great Depression. These included, "In Dubious Battle" (1936), "Of Mice and Men" (1937) and, Steinbeck's most famous work, "The Grapes of Wrath" (1939).
"The Grapes of Wrath" became the best-selling novel of 1939 and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction among other esteemed awards. Both 'Of Mice and Men' and 'The Grapes of Wrath' were also adapted into Academy-Award winning films.
Throughout the 1940's, Steinbeck continued to write while also serving as a war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune and working with the predecessor to the CIA, the Office of Strategic Services.
Steinbeck befriended many soldiers and commanders during World War II and was present for many actual battles in Italy and Germany. After the war, Steinbeck returned with some psychological trauma and shrapnel wounds and began writing again.
By this point, Steinbeck had divorced Carol Henning and his second wife, Gwyn Conger with whom he had two sons, and married Elaine Scott, his third and final wife.
In 1952 "East of Eden", Steinbeck's longest novel was published it was also made into a movie which became the famous actor James Dean's film debut. In 1961, Steinbeck published his last novel, "The Winter of Our Discontent" which was not a success as the public felt that the tone differed too much from his earlier work.
However, the next year, 1962, Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature. John Steinbeck died on December 20th, 1968 of heart disease and congestive heart failure. He was 66 years old. He was cremated and interred near his parents and grandparents graves in Salinas, California. To this day he remains a literary icon and many of his books are still considered classic literature.