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John Steinbeck was an American novelist whose Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Grapes of Wrath, portrayed the plight of migrant workers during the Great Depression.
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A short biography of John Steinbeck who gave voice to working class America. In 1939, he reported on migrant farm workers for the San Francisco Chronicle, providing the basis for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "The Grapes of Wrath."
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Born on February 27, 1902, in Salinas, California, John Steinbeck dropped out of college and worked as a manual laborer before achieving success as a writer. His 1939 novel, The Grapes of Wrath, about the migration of a family from the Oklahoma Dust Bowl to California, won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. Steinbeck served as a war correspondent during World War II, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. He died in New York City in 1968.
"A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us."
"In the souls of the people the grapes of wrath are filling and growing heavy, growing heavy for the vintage."
"Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen."
"We are lonesome animals. We spend all our life trying to be less lonesome."
"The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty."
"A writer lives in awe of words, for they can be cruel or kind, and they can change their meanings right in front of you."
"To finish is sadness to a writer—a little death. He puts the last word down and it is done. But it isn't really done. The story goes on and leaves the writer behind, for no story is ever done."
"I know that no one really wants the benefit of anyone's experience, which is probably why it is so freely offered."
"I should think that a comfortable body would let the mind go freely to its gathering."
"I do a whole of a day's work and then the next day, flushed with triumph, I dawdle. That's today. The crazy thing is that I get about the same number of words down either way."
"I guess it is a good thing I became a writer. Perhaps I am too lazy for anything else."
"For poetry is the mathematics of writing and closely kin to music. And it is also the best therapy because sometimes the troubles come tumbling out."
"The craft or art of writing is the clumsy attempt to find symbols for the wordlessness."
"I learned long ago that you cannot tell how you will end by how you start."
"We work in our own darkness a great deal with little real knowledge of what we are doing. I think I know better what I am doing than most writers but it still isn't much."
"Give a critic an inch and he'll write a play."
Famed novelist John Ernst Steinbeck Jr. was born on February 27, 1902, in Salinas, California. His books, including his landmark work The Grapes of Wrath (1939), often dealt with social and economic issues. Steinbeck was raised with modest means. His father, John Ernst Steinbeck, tried his hand at several different jobs to keep his family fed: He owned a feed-and-grain store, managed a flour plant and served as treasurer of Monterey County. His mother, Olive Hamilton Steinbeck, was a former schoolteacher.
For the most part, Steinbeck—who grew up with three sisters—had a happy childhood. He was shy, but smart, and formed an early appreciation for the land, and in particular California's Salinas Valley, which would greatly inform his later writing. According to accounts, Steinbeck decided to become a writer at the age of 14, often locking himself in his bedroom to write poems and stories. In 1919, Steinbeck enrolled at Stanford University—a decision that had more to do with pleasing his parents than anything else—but the budding writer would prove to have little use for college.
Over the next six years, Steinbeck drifted in and out of school, eventually dropping out for good in 1925, without a degree.
Following Stanford, Steinbeck tried to make a go of it as a freelance writer. He briefly moved to New York City, where he found work as a construction worker and a newspaper reporter, but then scurried back to California, where he took a job as a caretaker in Lake Tahoe. It was during this time that Steinbeck wrote his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929), and met and married his first wife, Carol Henning. Over the following decade, with Carol's support and paycheck, he continued to pour himself into his writing.
Steinbeck's follow-up novels, The Pastures of Heaven (1932) and To a God Unknown (1933), received tepid reviews. It wasn't until Tortilla Flat (1935), a humorous novel about paisano life in the Monterey region, was released that the writer achieved real success. Steinbeck struck a more serious tone with In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937) and The Long Valley (1938), a collection of short stories.
Widely considered Steinbeck's finest and most ambitious novel, The Grapes of Wrath was published in 1939. Telling the story of a dispossessed Oklahoma family and their struggle to carve out a new life in California at the height of the Great Depression, the book captured the mood and angst of the nation during this time period.
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