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An American author and winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize for literature John Ernst Steinbeck Jr b Salinas Calif Feb 27 1902 d Dec 20 1968 based most of his novels on the American experience often with sympathetic focus on the poor the eccentric or the dispossessed Early Life and Works Steinbeck grew up in Salinas Valley a rich agricultural area of Monterey County and the setting of many of his works where he learned firsthand of the difficulties of farm laborers From 1919 to 1925 he studied intermittently at Stanford University but did not receive a degree Steinbecks first published book Cup of Gold 1929 was not successful He then turned to the valleys of rural California for his settings and characters The Pastures of Heaven 1932 contains a series of closely linked tales about residents of California To a God Unknown 1933 relates a mystical story of self-sacrifice and is one of Steinbecks strongest statements about the relationship between people and the land The Long Valley 1938 is a collection of short stories among them The Red Pony which chronicles the initiation of a ranch boy Jody Tiflin into manhood Artistic Success Steinbecks first popular success was Tortilla Flat 1935 an episodic tale that recounts semihumorously the adventures of a raffish band of Mexican-Americans The books that ensued were terse and grim In Dubious Battle 1936 is the tragic story of a young labor organizer during an apple pickers strike OF MICE AND MEN 1937 depicts the lives of two itinerant farm workers and the tragedy that comes when their dreams are shattered Written as a play-novel it was produced on Broadway in 1937 and filmed in 1939 Their Blood Is Strong 1938 is a nonfictional account of conditions in migrant agricultural workers camps derived largely from articles written for the San Francisco News It probably formed the basis for The GRAPES OF
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