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John Ernst Steinbeck was born in Salinas California on February 27 1902He was the third of four children and the only son of John Ernst II and Olive Hamilton Steinbeck He spent his childhood and adolescence in the Salinas Valley later called the salad bowl of the nation This area would become the setting of many of Steinbecks stories and the most famous area associated with him Steinbecks father was a county treasurer and his mother was a teacher He attended local schools as a child and later went to Stanford University He studied marine biology at Stanford between 1920 and 1925 but never graduated During these early years several of his poems and short stories appeared in university publications After working for a short time as a manual laborer and reporter in New York City for the American Steinbeck returned to California because of the lack of success with his writing After publishing some novels and short stories that went unnoticed such as Cup of Gold the first novel that he ever published in 1929 Steinbeck first became widely known with Tortilla Flat in 1935 a series of humorous stories about pleasure-loving Mexican-Americans Steinbecks novels can all be classified as social novels dealing with the economic problems of rural labor but there is also a streak of worship of the earth in his books which often clashes with his matter-of-fact sociological approach After the rough and earthy humor of Tortilla Flat he moved on to more serious fiction much more aggressive in its social criticism to In Dubious Battle 1936 which deals with the strikes of the migratory fruit pickers on California plantations This was followed by Of Mice and Men in 1937 the story of the ignorant giant Lennie which was one of his biggest successes In 1939 he published what is considered his best work The Grapes of Wrath the story of Oklahoma tenant farmers who unable to earn a living from
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