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John Ernst Steinbeck history and work

Cannery Row is a picturesque, family fun waterfront street in Monterey, California. Once the site of a number of sardine canning factories. The street named Ocean View Avenue, officially became Cannery Row in January 1958 to honor John Steinbeck and his well-known novel Cannery Row.

Cup of Gold - 1929The Pastures of Heaven - 1932The Red Pony - 1933To A God Unknown - 1933
public domain
Cannery Row (1945)
Public Domain/R.R.Cratty

John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. born on February 27, 1902, in Salinas, California. Johann Adolf Großsteinbeck, Steinbeck's paternal grandfather, shortened the family name to Steinbeck when he immigrated to the United States.

Steinbeck graduated from Salinas High School in 1919 and then studied for five years at Stanford University in Palo Alto, leaving without a degree. He moved to New York City where he worked at odd jobs failing to have his work published. Returning to California in 1928, he worked as a tour guide and caretaker at the fish hatchery in Tahoe City. For most of the Great Depression Steinbeck lived in a cottage owned by his father in Pacific Grove, California, on the Monterey Peninsula a few blocks from the city of Monterey, California.

Steinbeck's first novel, Cup of Gold, published in 1929, is based on the life and death of Privateer Henry Morgan. For Steinbeck, Cup of Gold and the Monterey Peninsula was the beginning of publishing his work. Between 1931 and 1933 Steinbeck produced The Pastures of Heaven, published in 1932, -twelve interconnected stories about a valley near Monterey, which was discovered by a Spanish corporal. In 1933 Steinbeck published The Red Pony, a 100-page, four-chapter story weaving in memories of Steinbeck's childhood. Then, To a God Unknown which follows the life of a homesteader and his family in California.

It wasn’t until 1935 that Steinbeck achieved his first critical success, with Tortilla Flat a humorous novel set in post-war Monterey, California, that won the California Commonwealth Club's Gold Medal. It portrays the adventures of a group of homeless young men in Monterey after World War I, just before U.S. prohibition.

Steinbeck began to write his series of "California novels" and Dust Bowl fiction, set among common people during the Great Depression. These included In Dubious Battle, Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath.

Of Mice and Men about the dreams of a pair of migrant agricultural laborers in California. It was critically acclaimed and Steinbeck's 1962 Nobel Prize citation called it a "little masterpiece."

He wrote The Grapes of Wrath (1939), considered by many as his finest, most ambitious novel, based on newspaper articles about migrant agricultural workers that he had written in San Francisco. Later that year it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Steinbeck continued to write books including Cannery Row (1945), Burning Bright (1950), East of Eden (1952), The Winter of Our Discontent (1961) and Travels with Charley: In Search of America (1962). In 1962, Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Many of Steinbeck's novels and stories became films and stage plays. He died of December 20, 1968, in his New York City home.


Rhonda Cratty includes her experiences of 30 years of public school teaching, raising children of her own, and articles written for on-line and hard copy publications -within the pages of Learning at home. Learning at home can be purchased in print or eBook form through

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