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The Life of John Steinbeck

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Emma Nat

on 1 October 2014

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Transcript of The Life of John Steinbeck

Picture of an adult John Steinbeck.
John Steinbeck was born on February 27, 1902
John Steinbeck's Early Years
At an early age, Steinbeck had a passion for writing and reading
Lifelong Hobbies
Steinbeck spent most of his time reading and held a passion for writing stories
Childhood Summers
John Steinbeck spent his summers working on nearby ranches
Presented by Emma Eriksen, Alyssa Armstrong, Christine Castrellon, and Thomas Felix
The Life of John Steinbeck
John Steinbeck: Teenage Years
Steinbeck's family experienced hardships when he was a teenager
Father lost his job, and opened a grain and feed store which eventually failed
Luckily, his father was granted the position of Monterey County treasurer
A Budding Author
Steinbeck's love of writing became apparent when he was in his early adolescence
In high school, he would burn the midnight oil in his attic room of his parents' home, writing short stories and other literature
"I used to sit in that little room upstairs and write little stories and little pieces and send them out to magazines..." -John Steinbeck
Don't Like High School? You're in Good Company
Steinbeck, despite his good behavior and excellent grades, did not enjoy high school
"I remember how gray and doleful Monday morning was...it had a quality of...terror on its own." -John Steinbeck, a journal entry circa 1940.
Steinbeck did enjoy ninth-grade English; his teacher would read his compositions aloud for the class and gave him high praise
He later cited his English teacher as one of his biggest inspirations to continue writing
University Education
After high school, Steinbeck attended Stanford University, taking literature and writing courses and intending to major in English
From 1919 to 1925, he furthered his education but he ultimately left Stanford without a degree
In 1923, he enrolled in a biology course at Hopkins Marine Station
His interest in biology is mostly displayed in his work the
Sea Of Cortez
(1951), but his love for nature is a prominent feature in all his works
Return to California
From 1925 to 1926, Steinbeck lived and worked in New York in the hopes of finding a publisher for his works
He left New York unsuccessfully in 1926 and traveled back to California
Steinbeck found work as a Lake Tahoe caretaker from 1926 to 1928
In 1930, Steinbeck married his first wife, Carol Henning, and met his future close friend Ed Ricketts
John Steinbeck's first wife, Carol Henning
Left: Carol Henning
Right: John steinbeck
Ed Ricketts, marine biologist and John Steinbeck's close friend
Tragedy Strikes
In 1934, Steinbeck's mother died in Salinas, California
Father dies the following year (1935)
Steinbeck's mother, Olive Hamilton Steinbeck
John Ernst Steinbeck II, Steinbeck's father
John Steinbeck and the 1940s
(1940) Steinbeck travels with Ed Ricketts on a voyage through the Gulf of California to collect marine specimens
In 1942, Steinbeck divorced Carol Henning and met Gwendolyn "Gwyn" Conger
In 1943, Steinbeck married Gwyn and became a war correspondent in Europe for the Harold Tribune of New York
Gwyn Steinbeck nee Conger, Steinbeck's second wife
1940s continued
1944, Steinbeck and Conger bought a house in Monterey
August 23, 1944, Steinbeck's first child was born: Thomas Steinbeck, nicknamed Thom
In 1945, Steinbeck left Monterey to film "The Pearl" and never came back
June 12, 1946, Steinbeck's second son was born: John Steinbeck IV
In 1948, Steinbeck divorced Gwendolyn at her request and returned from New York City to Pacific Grove, California
John Steinbeck IV (left, aged 19) and his father (center) meeting President Johnson at the White House
John Steinbeck's Final Years
In 1949, Steinbeck met Elaine Scott and married her the following year
In 1960, Steinbeck traveled America with his dog, Charley
In 1962, Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature
1964, Steinbeck was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson
In 1968, the life of John Steinbeck ended in New York on December 20th, and was put to rest in Salinas, California at the Garden of Memories Cemetary
Steinbeck published his book Travels with Charley after his trip around America with his dog
Image of the Nobel Prize for Literature
Presidential Award of Freedom, granted to Steinbeck in 1964
John Steinbeck's grave at the Garden of Memories cemetary in Salinas, California
John Steinbeck's Legacy
Steinbeck's books continue to be read by an avid audience, over a half century since his death
He continues to have fame and popularity because of his poignant, personal, and intelligent portrayal of one of the most defining eras in America's history
Steinbeck's works resonated with the working class of America during the Great Depression, leading to over 400,000 copies of The Grapes of Wrath being sold within its first year alone
John Steinbeck's Legacy
Steinbeck's writings are often bleak because of their harsh honesty about life and human nature, allowing Steinbeck to accurately write about life during the Great Depression
Despite this, Steinbeck's works also show resiliency and optimism about living, found in his characters' words and actions and in his own tone
"There are no ugly questions except those clothed in condescension." -John Steinbeck,
East of Eden
John Steinbeck's Published Works
John Steinbeck has published 33 books: sixteen novels, six nonfiction books, amd five sets of short stories
Out of the large amount of literature Steinbeck has produced, five of his books stand out more than the others:
In Dubious Battle
Of Mice and Men
The Grapes of Wrath
East of Eden
Travels with Charley: In Search of America
Major Works:
In Dubious Battle
Published in 1936
First published book in a trilogy known as "The Dust Bowl Trilogy" that also included
Of Mice and Men
The Grapes of Wrath
The infamous novel is about fruit pickers who strike California with the help of what is now called a Communist party
The title of
In Dubious Battle
is a reference to John Milton's
Paradise Lost
Of Mice and Men
Published in 1937 and is set during the Great Depression
Written by Steinbeck in the form of a play, it tells the story of two migrant workers who try to save money to achieve their dream of buying a farm
The title references Robert Burns' poem "To a Mouse"
Three movies have been based off of this novella, produced in 1939, 1982, and 1992
The Grapes of Wrath
Published in 1939 and set during the Great Depression
The novel tells the story of family of sharecroppers who are forced off their land due to the development of the Dust Bowl and so head to California in search of work
Won a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize for fiction
The Grapes of Wrath
won two prestigious awards
National Book Award above; Pulitzer Prize for fiction to the right
Movie directed by John Ford in 1940
The title of the novel is an allusion to the first verse of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"
"He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath grow."
East of Eden
Published in 1952 and is set around American Civil War time
Story dealt with the perks of nature's good and evil and was addressed to Steinbeck's two sons
"It has everything in it that I have been able to learn about my craft or profession all these years. I think that everything else I have written has been, in a sense, practice for this." -John Steinbeck
The title is a Biblical allusion to the Gardens of Eden
Travels with Charley: In Search of America
Published in 1962
Steinbeck wrote about his experiences driving across America in a pick-up truck he bought in 1960 with his dog Charley
Steinbeck nicknamed his truck Rocinate after Don Quixote's "Noble Steed"
Rocinate can be found in The National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California
John Steinbeck's Beginning
Of English, German, and Irish descent
Born in Salinas, California, which later became the setting of many of his stories
Born to John Steinbeck Jr. and Olive Hamilton
He was the third of four children and the only son
He also worked on Spreckel's sugar beet farms with migrant workers
While working at the Spreckel's sugar beet farms, he would sometimes work in the laboratory
During free time, he would read and write
Steinbeck would also make repairs to his own belongings
Childhood member of Episcopal Church, his parents' faith
Later in life, Steinbeck identified as agnostic
Loved to repair his belongings
Spent a lot of time with his friend Ed Ricketts
Was indoors most times
Full transcript