John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath
A Story of Route 66 – The Mother Road
In the late 1930’s, the San Francisco News hired a young novelist, John Steinbeck,to write a series of articles about the migrant workers who had left the dust bowls of the southern plans to look for a better life in California.
Steinbeck’s newly published Tortilla Flat, a series of humorous stories about Monterey paisanos, was already receiving national acclaim. He wrote a seven-part series which he called “The Harvest Gypsies.” But while researching that series, Steinbeck’s imagination was captured by the people themselves. As a result, those articles became the foundation of what is considered by many to be his greatest work, The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939.
This was followed by a series of successful novels, the last being Travels with Charley, a travelogue published in 1962 in which Steinbeck wrote about his impressions during a three-month tour in a truck that led him through forty American states.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature in 1962. He died in New York City in 1968.
Grapes of Wrath was described during the Nobel Peace Prize presentation as:
“the great work that is principally associated with Steinbeck’s name, the epic chronicle The Grapes of Wrath (1939). This is the story of the emigration to California which was forced upon a group of people from Oklahoma through unemployment and abuse of power. This tragic episode in the social history of the United States inspired in Steinbeck a poignant description of the experiences of one particular farmer and his family during their endless, heartbreaking journey to a new home.”