John Steinbeck, born in Salinas, CA in 1902, grew up in a fertile agricultural valley, about twenty-five miles from the Pacific Coast. Both the valley and the coast would serve as settings for some of his best fiction. In 1919 he went to Stanford University, where he intermittently enrolled in literature and writing courses until he left in 1925 without taking a degree. During the next five years he supported himself as a laborer and journalist in New York City, all the time working on his first novel, Cup of Gold (1929).
He was a ceaseless experimenter throughout his career and his books cover a wide range of characters, places, and topics. He is most well known for The Grapes of Wrath (1939), which won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1939.
The last decades of his life were spent in New York City and Sag Harbor with his third wife, with whom he traveled widely. Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962, and, in 1964, he was presented with the United States Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Steinbeck died in New York in 1968. Today, more than thirty years after his death, he remains one of America's greatest writers and cultural figures.
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