John Steinbeck's Birthday
Steinbeck enrolled at Stanford in 1919, but he did so only to please his parents. He dropped in and out of the university for six years, only taking classes he thought were interesting, and he never finished a degree. Then he worked construction and tried to make it as a reporter in New York City, but he disliked that job and returned to California. Then, Steinbeck became a caretaker for an estate near Lake Tahoe. The job lasted for three years, and it was during this time that he wrote many drafts of what would become his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929).
Steinbeck's most productive period as a writer was the 1930s. He wrote several books, including the two for which he is most famous today, Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath. His wife edited his prose, typed his manuscripts, and suggested titles, which may explain why Steinbeck was so productive and successful. When The Grapes of Wrath was first published, the first printing of nearly 20,000 copies sold out quickly, and by May the book was selling 10,000 copies per week. Steinbeck won the Pulitzer Prize for the novel the following year.
As he grew older, Steinbeck became increasingly jaded by what he saw as American greed and waste. So he traveled across the country in a camper truck and then wrote the book Travels with Charley in Search of America (1962), where he celebrated what he found so admirable about his country: its individuals.
John Steinbeck said, "A book is like a man — clever and dull, brave and cowardly, beautiful and ugly. For every flowering thought there will be a page like a wet and mangy mongrel, and for every looping flight a tap on the wing and a reminder that wax cannot hold the feathers firm too near the sun."
- From The Writer's Almanac