Introducing John Steinbeck - Copley

Introducing John Steinbeck - Copley

John Steinbeck One of The Great American Writers of the 20th Century A Look at the Author Born February 27th in 1902 in Salinas, California, John was the 3rd of 4 children, and the only son. During his childhood, Steinbeck learned to appreciate his surroundings, and loved the Salinas countryside and

the nearby Pacific Ocean; his love of nature is apparent in his writing. Steinbeck worked during his summers as a hired The Fields of Salinas, California At the age of 14 he decided to be a writer and spent a lot of time writing in his room. In high school, Steinbeck did well in English and edited the school yearbook.

1919-1925 Steinbeck attended Stanford University to please his parents, but only chose courses that interested him- classical and British Literature, writing courses and the odd science course. Steinbeck did not receive a degree because he would drop in and out of school, sometimes to work with migrant workers and bindle stiffs on California ranches. During the late 1920s and 1930s he concentrated

on writing and wrote several novels set in California. Steinbeck gained great success by readers and critics. In 1929, he published his first novel, Cup of Gold In 1930, Steinbeck married Carol Henning, and they moved into his familys home. His father helped support

the struggling couple, but unfortunately, they divorced in 1942. In 1935, he won his first literary prize, Commonwealth Club of California Gold Medal for Best Novel by a Californian for his novel, Tortilla Flat. In 1937, Of Mice and Men was published, and was so widely accepted that Steinbeck began a book tour that led him to Europe. In 1939, The Grapes of Wrath

was published and became an instant best-seller; in 1940 it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world. This novel, just like Of Mice and Men, stemmed from his experience working among migrant workers. Steinbecks experiences in the fields researching migrant workers led him to have great compassion for these workers, and stirred up his crusade for social justice.

In 1943 he married Gwendolyn Conger who would father him two sons before their divorce in 1948. In 1943 Steinbeck worked as a war correspondent for the New York newspaper, Herald Tribune. In 1948 he moved back to Monterey. A year later he met Elaine Scott, who in 1950 became his third wife.

Although he continued to write and publish, he never felt at ease in his life, and once wrote to an aspiring writer from Salinas: Don't think for a moment that you will ever be forgiven for being what they call different. You wont! I still have not been forgiven. Only when I am delivered in a pine box will I be considered safe. After I had written the Grapes of Wrath the librarians at the Salinas Public Library, who had known my folks

remarked that is was lucky my parents were dead so that they did not have to suffer this shame. One of Steinbecks two sons fought in the Vietnam War, while Steinbeck himself was in Asia covering the war for Newsday, a Long Island newspaper. Steinbeck lost a number of friends during the anti-war movement due to his open support of the war and

Americas involvement Steinbecks last two books were nonfiction. Travels with Charley in Search of America was an account of his trip from Maine to California with his poodle, Charley. His final book, America and the

Americans, was about his belief that in time, America would once again feel united. John Steinbeck died on December 20, 1968 at his apartment in New York City. His wife took him home to Salinas to be buried near the land that he spent his life writing about. An Introduction

The setting of Mice and Men The novel is set in the farmland of the Salinas valley, where John Steinbeck was born The ranch in the novel is near Soledad, which is south-east of Salinas on the Salinas river. The countryside described at the beginning of the

novel, and the ranch itself is based on Steinbecks own experiences. Background on Migrant Workers Before the invention of farm machinery, humans had to do a lot of the farm work by hand. Between the 1880s

and the 1930s, thousands of men would travel the countryside in search of work. Such work included the harvesting of wheat. Migrant workers contd These workers would earn $2.50 or $3.00 a day, plus

food and shelter. During the 1930s, the unemployment rate was high in the U.S., and with so many men searching for work, agencies were set up to send farm workers to where they were needed. In the novel, George and Lennie (the two main characters) were given work cards from Murray and

Readys, which was one of the farm work agencies. The American Dream From the 17th Century onwards, immigrants have dreamed of a better life in America. Many people immigrated to America in search of a new life for themselves or their families. Many others immigrated to escape persecution or poverty in their

homeland. American Dream contd These immigrants dreamed of making their fortunes in America. For many this dream of riches became a nightmare. there were horrors of slavery, there were horrors of the American Civil War, there was a growing number of slums that

were just as bad as those in Europe, there was also great corruption in the American political system which led to many shattered hopes The idea of an American Dream for many was broken when in 1929, the Wall Street crashed, marking the beginning of the Great Depression. This era affected the whole world during the 1930s, but even in the

midst of hardship, some peoples dreams survived. Thousands of people made their way west towards California to escape from their farmlands in the mid-West that were failing due to drought. The characters of George and Lennie dreamt of having a little house and a couple of acres which was their own dream.

Of Mice and Men titles origin The title of the novel comes from a poem by the Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759 96) The best laid schemes o mice and men Gang aft agley [often go wrong] And leave us naught but grief and pain For promised joy! Now that you know about the author and the setting of the novel, lets start reading.

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