John Ernst Steinbeck Jr. (February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968) was an American writer. He is widely known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath (1939) and East of Eden (1952) and the novella Of Mice and Men (1937). He authored 27 books, including 16 novels, 6 non-fiction books and 5 collections of short stories.
Steinbeck's novels can all be classified as social novels dealing with the economic problems of rural labour, but there is also a streak of worship of the soil in his books, which does not always agree with his matter-of-fact sociological approach.
During World War II Steinbeck wrote several effective pieces of propagandistic fiction, among them The Moon Is Down (1942; film, 1943), a novel of Norwegians under the Nazis, and also served as a war correspondent.
Soon after the Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Steinbeck immortalised the dilapidated area in his 1945 novel, Cannery Row, the landscape began to alter, as did the clientele.
In the 1950s, the street was renamed Cannery Row, in honour of the novel.
In Steinbeck's later years, his work was widely recognized as being witty, sentimental, humorous and extremely perceptive of social and psychological relationships. His life's body of work was recognized in 1962 with the Nobel Prize for Literature. Steinbeck received the title of Honorary Consultant in American Literature to the Library of Congress in 1963. The year 1964 was a significant one for Steinbeck, as he received the United States Medal of Freedom, the Annual Paperback of the Year award and the Press Medal of Freedom.
There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you -- of kindness and consideration and respect -- not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable.
Steinbeck was born to John and Olive Hamilton Steinbeck, first-generation Americans, in Salinas, California, in 1902.
He enrolled in Stanford University in 1919, and attended until 1925. He dropped out of school and moved to New York City, where he developed his skills as a freelance writer.
Steinbeck wrote in the naturalist/realist style, often about poor, working-class people. His most famous work, The Grapes of Wrath, tells the story of the Joads, a poor family from Oklahoma and their journey to and subsequent struggles in California.
Mr. Steinbeck said: “No. Nothing like that. I draw a character. Then I draw a situation and put the two of them together. If the character I draw does what a real and similar person would do, he is good and true. I use him. Otherwise, he is X’d out.”
Steinbeck was also very prolific in film. Unlike many writers, he became deeply involved in several adaptations of his works, forging life-long friendship with such directors as Elia Kazan, writing a few scripts himself, and spending time helping to rewrite storylines. Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath, Tortilla Flat, The Pearl, The Red Pony and East of Eden were all successfully adapted for the screen and brought him further fame and fortune.
Steinbeck next dealt with the problems of labor unions in In Dubious Battle (1936), an effective story of a strike (when workers all decide to stop working as a form of protest against unfair treatment) by local grape pickers. Of Mice and Men (1937), first conceived as a play, is a tightly constructed novella (short novel) about an unusual friendship between two migrant workers (laborers who travel to wherever there is available work, usually on farms). Although the book is powerfully written and often moving, some critics feel that it lacks a moral vision.
Steinbeck's work remains popular in both the United States and Europe, chiefly for its social consciousness and concern and for the narrative qualities displayed in the early novels. Although he refused to settle into political conservatism (preferring to maintain traditions and resist change) in his later years, his all-embracing support of American values and acceptance of all national policies, including the Vietnam War
Similar discussions of the classic 75-year-old novel, about two migrant workers desperately seeking their own land, unfold in thousands of classrooms around the country. But these two sets of students are engaged in an unusual literary experiment, studying the book in a collaboration intended to provide lessons between the lines of Steinbeck’s prose.