Many people know the name John Steinbeck because of the books that he wrote. As the author of The Grapes of Wrath, many of read the tale of migrant workers that struggled to make their way through life during the Great Depression. Born in 1902 in California, he is one of the few people who have won both a Nobel Prize and a Pulitzer Prize for his work. Here are some interesting facts about this award winning author that you may also not have known.
1. A 6 Year Dropout
Steinbeck attended Stanford mostly because it was what his parents wanted him to do. He wasn’t really thrilled by the college environment. Steinbeck was a smart guy and was writing poems at the age of 14. He was also a bit shy, so the populated campus wasn’t a very comfortable place for him to be. Over the course of 6 years, Steinbeck kept up with trying to earn a college education. He wound up dropping out in 1925 for good and didn’t have a degree to show for it.
2. He Wrote In His Spare Time
For awhile, Steinbeck tried to make a go out of a writing career in New York City, but it just didn’t pan out for him. He was working full time as a construction worker and could only find some passing work as a newspaper reporter. Steinbeck decided to take a job in Lake Tahoe as a caretaker and that’s when he wrote his first novel in his spare time. He didn’t receive any decent reviews of his first novels, however, and didn’t find any real commercial success until 1935.
3. He Went Back to Reporting
After the successes of The Grapes of Wrath, many authors wouldn’t bother with the outbreak of war. That wasn’t Steinbeck’s way. He took a job as a reporter for the Herald Tribune in New York and served as a war correspondent. It was one of the most unique career moves that any author in American literature as ever taken. He went from casting aside a reporter’s position to taking one after being enormously successful. “Wrath” was selling 10,000 copies per week at its height.
4. Sending Out a Western Flyer
In a small Washington state port sits the Western Flyer, believed to be the boat that Steinbeck traveled on to Mexico with a friend to collect samples. Steinbeck’s experiences on that boat resulted in the Sea of Cortez being published. The boat itself had to be salvaged and it sits in a town called Port Townsend. People from as far away as England have flown to this small town about 2 hours west of Seattle just to see the boat. It’s covered in mud and the brass has been corroded to green, but the pilgrimage is a testament to the influence of Steinbeck.
John Steinbeck once said that the bonds between people and boats was a bond that was too deep to suffer. Steinbeck may have died nearly 50 years ago, but as these facts show, he is still able to touch people deeply to this day.