Dust Bowl Migrants
Born in Salinas, California in 1902, John Steinbeck was a prolific author of novels, plays, short stories and screenplays. He is best known for his novels "The Grapes of Wrath" and "East of Eden." His "Of Mice and Men" is still widely read and performed as a play. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962, six years before his death of heart failure. A product of the West, especially of agricultural California, he wrote movingly about poor farmers, migrant workers and others down on their luck. He was also interested in marine biology and with a close friend and biologist ( Edward Ricketts) wrote "Sea of Cortez: A Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research." He participated and wrote about World War II as a civilian. He visited the troops in Vietnam during that war. Married three times and a father, he led an interesting life, constantly writing and travelling.
Steinbeck would make Salinas and the Coast settings for many of his stories. While he studied for a time at Stanford University, he never graduated. Moving to New York City in 1925, for five years he supported himself as a laborer and journalist, finally moving to Lake Tahoe to work as a caretaker of an estate. It was there he worked on his first novel, "Cup of Gold." He worked and published two novels but did not become well known and financially secure until the publication of "Tortilla Flat." The 1930's were a time of great creativity, culminating in perhaps his best known works, "Of Mice and Men," and "The Grapes of Wrath." He wrote and travelled extensivelly throughout the next twenty years. In 1952, he published his epic novel " East of Eden." In 1961 he and his dog travelled the backroads of the United States. He published an account of his travels in "Travels with Charley in Search of America." Other publications followed as his health slowly declined. A heavy smoker all his adult life, John Steinbeck died in 1968 in New York City.