Steinbeck is best known for his 1939 novel “The Grapes of Wrath”, a tale of migratory farm workers in California, for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. His other well known novels include “Of Mice and Men” (1937), “Cannery Row” (1942) and “East of Eden” (1952). The tone of his novels varies from grim realism to gentle sentimentality, but often contain common themes of agricultural labor and Mexican-Americans working in California. He was also a successful playwright, writing the scripts for “Forgotten Village” (1941) and “Viva Zapata!” (1952). He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.
Steinbeck was born in California where his father was a government official. He attended, but did not graduate from, Stanford University. He married in 1930, at age 28. His first three novels were unsuccessful; however, he gained important experience with the manual labor which supported him during this period. With his fourth novel, “Tortilla Flat” (1935), he began to achieve commercial success. During World War II he wrote propaganda for the United States, including “The Moon is Down” (1942) about Norwegians under Nazi rule. He continued to write after the war, but his best known works remain those he completed during the 1930s. He died in New York at age 66.