John Steinbeck was born in the farming town of Salinas, California on 27 February 1902. He was coming from a fairly successful family. His father was the owner of a grain store, while his mother was a teacher. As he grew up at Salinas, young John had an appreciation for the environment from a young age. “I remember my childhood names for grasses and secret flowers,” he wrote in the opening chapter of East of Eden. “I remember where a toad may live and what time the birds awaken in the summer-and what trees and seasons smelled like.”
His family was well established in the area and had a good name. His parents were member of various prestigious clubs and the community respected them. John however, was something of a rebel. He didn’t share his family’s ideas and values. At the age of fourteen he decided that he wants to be a writer. As a teenager he spent most of his days writing stories and poems in his room.
In 1919, he signed up in Stanford University. To make the most of his studies, he enrolled only for the courses of English Literature and writing courses. From 1919 to 1925, when he left Stanford without taking a degree, Steinbeck dropped in and out of the University. Sometimes he worked closely with migrants and bindlestiffs on California ranches. Due to this, he started to sympathise with the weak and grew fond of the working class. This is reflected later on in his work.
After he left Standford, he moved to New York and worked as a construction worker and a reporter. His studies, however, didn’t last long, as he soon returned to his hometown Salinas. Soon after his return, he finally focused on his writing. In 1929, he published his first novel, Cup of Gold. After he married Carol Henning, they settled together in his family’s cottage house.
During the 1930’s, Steinbeck wrote most of his best California fiction: The Pastures of Heaven (1932), To a God Unknown (1933), The Long Valley (1938), Tortilla Flat (1935), In Dubious Battle (1936), Of Mice and Men (1937) and The Grapes of Wrath (1939).
During WW2 Steinbeck worked as a war correspondent and wrote government propaganda. The most popular is The Moon is Down (1942). Postwar he wrote three more famous works. He published Cannery Row in 1945. The other two are The Pearl (1947), and The Wayward Bus (1947). They all contained his familiar elements of his social criticism but were more relaxed in approach and sentimental in tone.
John Steinbeck wrote more books in the 1950s and 1960s. However, his fame and reputation rests with the novels he wrote during the 1930s. He died in New York on December 20, 1968 of a heart disease. Steinbeck’s incomplete novel based on the King Arthur legends of Malory and others. Finally, The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights, was published in 1976.