John Steinbeck

American Author (1902-1968)

John Steinbeck was a generational writer and novelist from New York City. He is widely remembered for his books ‘Of Mice and Men’, ‘East of Eden,’ and Pulitzer Prize-winner ‘The Grapes of Wrath.’

Life Facts

  • John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California, on February 27th, 1902.
  • He hailed from a family with very limited means.
  • His mother was a schoolteacher, and his father did several kinds of jobs – including working as a treasurer and owning a grain store – to fend for his family.
  • Growing up, Steinbeck had three sister-siblings.

Interesting Facts

  • As a young adult, Steinbeck was considered smart but also notably shy.
  • At age 14, he was already convinced he would become a writer and would constantly lock himself up in his room writing poems and short stories.
  • Steinbeck enrolled in college but later dropped out without acquiring a degree.
  • He one time took jobs as a construction worker and a reporter.
  • He wrote a total of 31 books in his lifetime.
  • His book ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ won him the Pulitzer Prize.

Famous Books By John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck wrote many books during his hay days, and several of them became very popular and are still in today’s society a force to be reckoned with. Among his most popular books include – ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, ‘Of Mice and Men’, ‘The Pearl’ among others.

Of Mice and Men’ follows the story of two best friends, George and Lennie, who migrate to Selinas to work at a ranch as they struggle to survive the economic hardship brought upon them by the Great Depression.

The two friends plan to achieve the American Dream, and this includes buying their own farm and becoming their own boss. This plan does not get to see the light of day, thanks to Lennie’s knack for getting into trouble.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck Digital Art
Of Mice and Men Digital Art

The Pearlnarrates the story of a peasant Mexican man, Kino, and his wife and son – Juana and Coyotito. Kino works as a driver but is also in the business of picking pearls by the ocean.

One day, his son Coyotito is bitten by a scorpion but is refused treatment by the village doctors for the reason that they can’t afford it. Later, when Kino finds the biggest gem which is going to make him rich, there’s a fit of widespread jealousy and potentially harmful conspiracy against his achievement.

The Grapes of Wrath’ is arguably Steinbeck’s greatest book, selling more than 10,000 copies in only a week and then going on to win the Pulitzer Prize. Like ‘Of Mice and Men’, the book is set against the backdrop of the Great Depression and follows the struggle of an Oklahoma family to survive through the rough periods of such times.

East of Eden’ follows the tale of two families, The Hamiltons, and Trasks, through the civil war and World War I. Steinbeck’s ‘East of Eden’ is more of an allegory to the biblical Garden of Eden and the first earthman.

Early Life

John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California, on February 27, 1902. His father, John Steinbeck Sr, was an Afro-business owner and treasurer for the Monterey County, who was married to his mother, Olive, a former schoolteacher. The couple had additional three girls grow up alongside Steinbeck. Although his parents had very limited means, Steinbeck would later recount that he had a very decent upbringing, noting that his childhood was a happy one, and growing up with his three sisters played a huge part in making that a reality. At a young age, Steinbeck started exhibiting traits that distinguished him as a smart kid for his age group, but he was also found to be extremely shy and reserved. After spending a good amount of his childhood in Salinas, Steinbeck fell in love with the place – which will later become a big inspiration for a successful writing career.

Literary Career

Steinbeck kicked off his writing career as a prodigy. At age 14, he was already quite prolific with writing and would often lock himself up in his room for days writing short stories and poems. He later got admitted into Stanford university but merely to please his parents and not to hone his writing ambition, a skill that he already possessed naturally. Steinbeck later dropped out of college and went to New York, where he had a stint as a freelance writer, later doubling jobs as a newspaper reporter and a construction worker. He would later quit these jobs and go back to California to work as a caretaker and reignite his creative writing career full-time. In 1937, he published the short novella ‘Of Mice and Men’ which became an instant hit. He would then go on to publish more than thirty quality books – including his Pulitzer Prize-winner ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, which had gone public by 1939.

Literature by John Steinbeck

Explore literature by John Steinbeck below, created by the team at Book Analysis.