||Born in 1902, the third of four children, John Steinbeck was the only son of John
Olive Hamilton Steinbeck. Raised in the family home in Salinas, California, Steinbeck
the woods and explored Monterey Bay and the Big Sur. He was not a motivated student,
knew from an early age that he wanted to write. He graduated from Salinas High School
1919 and entered Stanford University, which he attended intermittently until 1925.
took time off in order to earn money for the following term's tuition and took a variety
jobs including clerk, surveyor, and ranch hand. In 1923 Steinbeck took a class in
biology which sparked a life long interest in the subject. He left Stanford in 1925
||Steinbeck began writing fiction in college and published a few pieces in the school
When he left school he decided New York was the place for an aspiring writer to be,
took a job on a freighter and headed East. Less than a year later, discouraged by
of success, he returned to California on another steamer. He spent the next couple
working as a handyman and caretaker at a Lake Tahoe estate and in February 1928 he
his first novel Cup of Gold. Later that year he met Carol Henning,
whom he would marry two years later. At the end of the year he moved to San Francisco,
Henning had a job, moved in with a friend who was also a budding writer, and began
on his second novel.
||Cup of Gold was published in 1929 and Steinbeck and Henning were
married in 1930. The couple lived simply, largely supported by Steinbeck's father.
published Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933) in quick succession, but the bankruptcy of
his publisher left him without any consistent means of income from his writing. The
moved into the Steinbeck family's cottage in Pacific Grove and, as the grip of the
Depression tightened, lived largely on what they could grow or catch in the sea. Steinbeck
traveled in California a great deal during the Depression and he wrote about what
What some critics consider his greatest works were published during the thirties including
Tortilla Flat (1935), Of Mice and Men (1937), The Red Pony (1937), and The Grapes of Wrath (1939).
||Early in 1941 Steinbeck separated from Henning and in the fall moved to New York City
Gwyndolyn Conger. His divorce became final in 1942 leaving him free to marry Conger
1943. Steinbeck left almost immediately to travel to Europe as a foreign correspondent
the New York Herald Tribune. Gwyndolyn had two children with Steinbeck,
Thom in 1944 and John in 1946. The couple moved back and forth between New York and
California during the forties and divorced in 1948.
||Steinbeck met his third wife, Elaine Scott, in 1949 and they married in 1950. They
primarily in the New York City area, spending part of each winter in Mexico or other
climes, and in 1955 they bought a summer cottage in Sag Harbor. Steinbeck continued
write, varying his steady stream of novels with plays and screen adaptations. Many
novels were performed on stage or made into movies. In 1960, despite illness, Steinbeck
a cross-country trip with only a French poodle for company. The diary of this trip
Travels with Charley (1962). His last novel, The Winter of Our Discontent, was published in 1961. After traveling
to Stockholm in 1962 to accept the Nobel Prize for Literature, Steinbeck's health
decline. He had been suffering small strokes for several years, and they began to
died at home in 1968.