ABOUT JOHN STEINBECK
February 27,1902; 132 Central Avenue, Salinas, CA
(what is now the reception room of the Steinbeck House)
Graduated from Salinas High School--June 1919
Attended Stanford University--1919-1925
Died in New York, December 20,1968
Ernst Steinbeck,1863-1935, County Treasurer
Hamilton Steinbeck,1867-1934, Teacher
Elizabeth Steinbeck Ainsworth, May 25,1894 - Oct. 20, 1992
lived in Pacific Grove, CA
Esther Steinbeck Rodgers, April 14,1892 - May 9,1986; lived in Watsonville,
Mary Steinbeck Dekker, Jan 9,1905 - January 23,1965; buried in family
Carol Henning Steinbeck Brown, married 1930 and divorced 1942; lived
in Carmel Valley, CA, died February 8, 1983, Monterey, CA
Gwyndolyn Conger Steinbeck, married 1943 and divorced 1948 died
on December 30,1975, Colorado
Elaine Anderson Scott Steinbeck, married 1950, lives in New York
Steinbeck, August 2,1944
John Steinbeck IV, June 12, 1946 - February 7,1991
(mother of Thomas
and John IV
- Commonwealth Club of California Gold Medal for Best Novel by a
Californian (Tortilla Flat)
1936 - Commonwealth Club of California Gold Medal for Best
Novel by a Californian (In Dubious Battle)
1938 - New York Drama Critics' Circle Award (Of Mice &
1939 - Member of National Institute of Arts and Letters--American
1940 - Pulitzer Prize Fiction Award (The Grapes of Wrath)
1946 - King Haakon Liberty Cross (The Moon is Down)
1948 - Member of American Academy of Arts and Letters
1962 - Nobel Prize for Literature
1963 - Honorary Consultant in American Literature to the
Library of Congress
1964 - United States Medal of Freedom
- Trustee of John F. Kennedy Memorial Library
- Annual Paperback of the Year Award
- Press Medal of Freedom
1966 - Member of the National Arts Council
1979 - US Postal Service issued a John Steinbeck Commemorative
1983 - Steinbeck Center Foundation started in Salinas, CA
1984 - American Arts Gold Medallion of Steinbeck issued by
the US Mint
1993 - Steinbeck Center Foundation opens interim head quarters
1997 - National Steinbeck Center groundbreaking
1998 - National Steinbeck Center Grand Opening (June 27,
years in the relationship between Steinbeck and Salinas
Born February 27 in the Salinas family home, 132 Central Avenue.
his first stories there. As an adult, he visited his parents and
wrote section of various works including The Red Pony
and Tortilla Flat.
Graduated from Salinas High School, then located on West Alisal
Street across from the post office. Began attending Stanford University.
Went to New York City, working odd jobs, including manual labor
of Madison Square Garden. Could not find a publisher. He returned
to California the
Cup of Gold became his first published novel.
Married Carol Henning and moved to the family home in Pacific Grove.
His father helped support the struggling couple. They divorced in
The Pastures of Heaven became his first published
work set in Monterey County: Corral de Tierra.
His mother died in the Salinas home. Steinbeck had stayed in the
home to take care of her. The house in Salinas is pretty haunted
now. I see things walking at night that it is not good to see,
Steinbeck wrote to a friend. A short story set in Monterey County,
The Murder won an O. Henry Prize.
His father died. This was the first year Steinbeck had commercial
Tortilla Flat was an instant hit.
Of Mice and Men, set around Soledad, was produced as
a novel and then as a play; also more of The Red Pony.
Steinbeck mentioned labor violence in Salinas in a letter: There
are riots in Salinas and killings in the streets of that dear little
town where I was born.
The Long Valley - a collection of short stories set
in the Salinas Valley.
The Grapes of Wrath. - inspired nationwide attention
on the living conditions and exploitation of farm workers. From
Los Gatos, Steinbeck wrote: The vilification of me out here
from the large landowners and bankers is pretty bad. The latest
is a rumor started by them that the Okies hate me and have threatened
to kill me for lying about them. I'm frightened at the rolling might
of this damned thing, It is completely out of hand ; I mean a kind
of hysteria about the book is growing that is not healthy.
Film version of The Grapes of Wrath. Steinbeck also
received the Pulitzer Prize for the novel.
Married Gwyndolyn Conger; divorced in 1948. War correspondent in
Europe for the Herald Tribune of New York. First edition of The
Portable Steinbeck was published. On a visit to Africa, Steinbeck
wrote, The sea was the same blue as in Monterey and it made
me very terribly homesick.
Movie Lifeboat released. Steinbeck bought a house in
Monterey but was unwelcome; no one would rent him an office for
writing. He was harassed when trying to get fuel and wood from a
local wartime rations board.
wrote that his old friends did not want him, partly because of his
works and partly because he was so successful: This isn't
my country anymore. And it won't be until I am dead. It makes me
very sad. He left Monterey the next year and moved to New
Cannery Row, which is set in Monterey.
Moved from New York to Pacific Grove, Examined The Californian's
files of old newspapers to research East of Eden, which
is set in the Salinas Valley. Wandered around many childhood hangouts
in the hills around Salinas and San Juan Grade.
told that a little quiver of terror has crept through old Salinas
at the project. I am on no punitive expedition. I just want it straight,
wrote that people were already telling untrue but dramatic stories
about him: I have a whole life and adventures in Salinas all
of which are new to me. It would be fun to collect them sometime.
said he was being credited with other boys mischief, including the
throwing of the roast of beef through the glass door at City Hall.
I have become a giant kind of half criminal, half ape over there.
also wrote that he was trying to buy the ranch where he had set
The Red Pony, partly because he wanted to write East
of Eden there. He did not.
on my marathon book, which is called Salinas Valley.
It is what I have been practicing to write all of my life. Everything
else has been training.
Met Elaine Scott at the Pine Inn at Ocean Avenue and Monte Verde
in Carmel. They married the next year.
The Log from the Sea of Cortez published; the work is
frequently referred to at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
East of Eden, his major work about the history of
the Salinas Valley, was published.
Holiday magazine ran a series by authors about their hometowns.
Steinbeck wrote an article, Always Something to do in Salinas,
that included many barbs at his hometown.
Steinbeck 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
and it had been to a large extent read and sometimes burned, 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.
Salinas contemplates naming North Salinas High School after Steinbeck.
Steinbeck wrote a now-famous letter to a Californian staff member
against the idea, saying he doesnt want school children to
curse his name: If the city of my birth should wish to perpetuate
my name clearly but harmlessly, let it name a bowling alley after
me or a dog track or even a medium price, low-church brothel; but
Traveled through America with his poodle to write Travels
with Charley. Took his last view of the Salinas Valley from
Steinbeck accepts the Nobel Prize in Stockholm. He wrote a college
friend, This prize business is only different from the Lettuce
Queen of Salinas in degree.
Died December 20 in New York.
On March 4, his ashes were buried in the Garden of Memories cemetery.
compiled by Walter Neary. Quotations from letters drawn from Steinbeck,
A Life in Letters, The Viking press Inc., New York, 1975,
edited by Elaine Steinbeck and Robert Walsten.