A Chronology of Steinbeck's Life

  • Birth

    Birth
    On the 27th of February 1902, Steinbeck was born in Salinas, CA to John Ernst II and Olive Hamilton.
  • Period: to

    World War One

  • Period: to

    Salinas High School

  • Period: to

    Stanford University

    Steinbeck attended classes at Stanford University but never received a degree. During these years, Steinbeck dropped out for several months and was employed intermittently as a sales clerk, farm laborer, ranch hand, bench chemist, and factory worker.
  • First Publications

    First Publications
    During his time at Stanford University, Steinbeck published "Fingers of Cloud" and "Adventures in Arcademy" in The Stanford Spectator.
  • Cup of Gold Published

    Cup of Gold Published
    Steinbeck publishes his first novel, Cup of Gold, with Mcbride.
  • Period: to

    Great Depression

  • Ed Ricketts

    Ed Ricketts
    During this year, Steinbeck meets Edward F. Ricketts, marine biologist, philosopher, and longtime friend.
  • Move to Pacific Grove

    Move to Pacific Grove
    After marrying Carol, she and Steinbeck move to a house in Pacific Grove.
  • Dissonant Symphony

    Dissonant Symphony
    During the 1930s, while working on To a God Unknown and The Pastures of Heaven, Steinbeck experimented with a collection of linked stories, titled Dissonant Symphony. The work was supposed to focus on several northern California families and how their lives were influenced by environment and other circumstances. Though Steinbeck wrote much of it, the work was eventually abandoned.
  • Period: to

    Dust Bowl

    In 1936, Tom Collins took over the weedpatch camp and met Steinbeck.
  • Carol Henning

    Carol Henning
    Marriage to Carol Henning, Steinbeck's first wife.
  • Pastures of Heaven Published

    Pastures of Heaven Published
  • To A God Unknown Published

    To A God Unknown Published
  • Steinbeck's mother dies

    Steinbeck's mother dies
    Olive Hamilton Steinbeck dies in Salinas, CA at age 66.
  • Tortilla Flat Published

    Tortilla Flat Published
    The first novel that had popular success, Tortilla Flat was published by Covici-Friede. His editor for this novel, Pascal Covici, would become a lifelong friend.
  • In Dubious Battle Published

    In Dubious Battle Published
  • Death of Steinbeck's Father

    Death of Steinbeck's Father
    John Ernst Steinbeck (father) dies in May at 72.
  • Moves to Los Gatos

    Moves to Los Gatos
    To see the interior:
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  • Travel

    Travel
    First trip to Europe and Russia
  • The Red Pony Published

    The Red Pony Published
  • Travel West

    Travel West
    Steinbeck went west from Oklahoma with migrants.
  • The Chrysanthemums Published

    The Chrysanthemums Published
    First published in Harper's Magazine.
  • Of Mice and Men Published

    Of Mice and Men Published
  • Play: Of Mice and Men

    Play: Of Mice and Men
    Opening of the play, Of Mice and Men in New York. Steinbeck had gone to New York and Pennsylvania to work on the stage version, which was produced by Music Box Theatre.
  • Their Blood is Strong Published

    Their Blood is Strong Published
    A nonfiction account of the migrant labor problem
  • Award

    Award
    New York Drama Critics Circle Award given to Steinbeck for the play Of Mice and Men
  • The Long Valley Published

    The Long Valley Published
    A short story collection, including the Red Pony, Flight, The Gift, The Chrysanthemums, The White Quail. For this work, Pascal Covici became an editor at Viking Press after the bankruptcy of his own firm.
  • The Grapes of Wrath Published

    The Grapes of Wrath Published
    Published by Viking, The Grapes of Wrath, provoking both great popular acclaim and violent political condemnation for its depiction of Oklahoma migrants and California growers, as well as "vulgar" language and socialist bias.
  • Film

    Film
    The film, Of Mice and Men, is released.
  • Period: to

    World War Two

  • Film

    Film
    Film of The Grapes of Wrath released.
  • Award

    Award
    In the Spring of 1940, Steinbeck receives the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for The Grapes of Wrath
  • Documentary: The Forgotten Village

    Documentary: The Forgotten Village
    Summer of 1940s, a documentary film about the living conditions in rural Mexico is released
  • Marine Expedition

    Marine Expedition
    Ricketts and Steinbeck travel through the Gulf of California on "Western Flyer" from Mar 11, 1940 to Apr 20, 1940
  • Travel to Mexico

    Travel to Mexico
    Steinbeck traveled to Mexico for the filming of The Forgotten Village.
  • Separated from Carol

    Separated from Carol
    In the Spring of 1941, Carol and Steinbeck seperate.
  • Gwyn

    Gwyn
    In the Fall of 1941, Steinbeck moves in with Gwyndolyn Conger.
  • Sea of Cortez Published

    Sea of Cortez Published
    Book written with Ed Ricketts, published by Viking
  • Bombs Away

    Bombs Away
    Bombs Away written for Army Air Corps
  • Film

    Film
    The movie version of The Moon is Down is released.
  • Divorce

    Divorce
    Divorce from Carol is finalized.
  • Travel to Europe and North Africa

    Travel to Europe and North Africa
    From June to October of 1943, Steinbeck traveled in Europe and North Africa as a war correspondent for New York Herald Tribune.
  • Move to New York

    Move to New York
    After marrying Gwyn in March, she and Steinbeck move to New York.
  • Marriage to Gwyn

    Marriage to Gwyn
    Gwyn Conger and John Steinbeck marry in New Orleans.
  • Birth of Thom

    Birth of Thom
    Steinbeck and Gwyn's first child is born, Thomas "Thom" Steinbeck.
  • Cannery Row Published

    Cannery Row Published
  • Travel to Sweden

    Travel to Sweden
    Gwyn and John sailed on a ship to Sweden in October of 1946, where he was inundated with reporters and cameramen. While he was there, he was awarded King Haakon’s Liberty Cross for his writing of The Moon is Down.
  • Birth of John IV

    Birth of John IV
    Steinbeck and Gwyn's second son is born, John Steinbeck IV.
  • The Wayward Bus Published

    The Wayward Bus Published
  • The Pearl Published

    The Pearl Published
  • Travel to Russia

    Travel to Russia
    From August to September of 1947, Steinbeck took a tour of Russia with photographer Robert Capa for the New York Herald Tribune.
  • Period: to

    Cold War

  • A Russian Journal Published

    A Russian Journal Published
    An account of Steinbeck's 1947 tour of Russia is published by Viking.
  • Death of Ed Ricketts

    Death of Ed Ricketts
    Ed Ricketts, longtime friend of Steinbeck, is killed in an automobile accident.
  • Divorce

    Divorce
    Steinbeck and Gwyn divorce.
  • Burning Bright Published

    Burning Bright Published
  • Play: Burning Bright

    Play: Burning Bright
    Opening of the play Burning Bright in New York City.
  • Marriage to Elaine

    Marriage to Elaine
    Steinbeck marries his third wife, Elaine Anderson Scott.
  • The Log from the Sea of Cortez Published

    The Log from the Sea of Cortez Published
    This publication also includes an original essay "About Ed Ricketts"
  • Travel to Nantucket

    Travel to Nantucket
    John, Elaine, and John’s two sons all spent the summer of 1951 in Nantucket. It was here that he made major strides toward the completion of his “big” novel East of Eden. By the time of the family’s departure from Nantucket, he was extremely close to completing the novel.
  • Film: Viva Zapata!

    Film: Viva Zapata!
    Screenplay for this movie was published in Rome by Edizoni Filmcritica in 1953.
  • East of Eden Published

    East of Eden Published
  • Travel

    Travel
    Steinbeck travels Italy, Greece, Spain, France, Switzerland, and Finland.
  • Sweet Thursday Published

    Sweet Thursday Published
    Sequel to Cannery Row
  • Homes

    Homes
    Steinbeck purchases a summer home in Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York.
  • Play: Pipe Dream

    Play: Pipe Dream
    A Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein III musical based on Sweet Thursday, opens in New York.
  • Period: to

    Vietnam War

  • Presidential Election

    Presidential Election
    Eisenhower vs Adlai Stevenson
    Eisenhower won, but Steinbeck supported Stevenson. (Description of photo: John and Elaine Steinbeck, President Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ), Mr and Ms James Roosevelt on route to the Adlai Stevenson Funeral on Air Force 1)
  • The Short Reign of Pippin IV Published

    The Short Reign of Pippin IV Published
  • Film: The Wayward Bus

    Film: The Wayward Bus
  • Travel to Tokyo

    Travel to Tokyo
    In 1957, Steinbeck went to Japan for the P.E.N. meeting. Though apprehensive, he made the opening speech for the opening session of the congress.
  • Once There Was a War Published

    Once There Was a War Published
    A collection of Steinbeck's 1943 wartime dispatches.
  • Travel to England and Wales

    Travel to England and Wales
    From February to October in 1959, John and Elaine traveled to England and Wales to research background for a modern English version of Malory's Morte D'arthur.
  • Charley Travels

    Charley Travels
    From September to November of 1960, Steinbeck tours the United States with his poodle, Charley.
  • The Winter of Our Discontent Published

    The Winter of Our Discontent Published
  • Travels with Charley Published

    Travels with Charley Published
    The journal of his 1960 trip with Charley is published.
  • Nobel Prize

    Nobel Prize
    Steinbeck is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
  • Travel to Scandinavia, Europe, and the Soviet Union

    Travel to Scandinavia, Europe, and the Soviet Union
    Steinbeck and dramatist Edward Albee travel on the United States Information Agency cultural tour from October to December of 1963. Steinbeck and dramatist Edward Albee travel on the United States Information Agency cultural tour.
  • Medal of Freedom

    Medal of Freedom
    Steinbeck is presented the Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
  • Travel to South Vietnam

    Travel to South Vietnam
    Steinbeck goes for an extensive visit to South Vietnam for fact-finding and to visit John IV from December of 1966 to January of 1967.
  • Unfinished Novel

    Unfinished Novel
    "A Piece of it Fell on my Tail" was the title of a work Steinbeck began writing shortly after abandoning The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights. This was the last literary project he planned.
  • America and Americans Published

    America and Americans Published
    A reflection on contemporary America
  • Death

    Death
    Steinbeck dies of arteriosclerosis in New York City.
  • In Touch Published

    In Touch Published
    The Vietnam Memoir by John Steinbeck IV.
  • Uncollected Stories of John Steinbeck

    Uncollected Stories of John Steinbeck
    Published in Japan, Kiyoshi Nakayama includes multiple stories published in a variety of places. Stories include: "The Time the Wolves Ate the Vice Principal", "His Father", and "Reunion at the Quiet Hotel".