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.
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.
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.
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