In 1939, The Grapes of Wrath
was published and became an
instant best-seller; in 1940 it was
awarded the Pulitzer Prize, one
of the most prestigious literary
awards in the world.
This novel, just like Of Mice and Men,
stemmed from his experience working
among migrant workers.
Steinbeck’s experiences in the fields
researching migrant workers led him to
have more compassion for these workers,
and stirred up his concern for social
In 1943 he married Gwendolyn
Conger who would father him two
sons before their divorce in 1948.
In 1943 Steinbeck
worked as a war corre-
spondent for the New
York newspaper, Herald
While living in Monterey, California, Steinbeck said that he felt unwelcome as no one would rent him an office for writing, and he was harassed when trying to get fuel and wood from a local wartime rations board.
Steinbeck wrote that his old friends did not want to be around him, partly because of his works, and partly because he was so successful: “This isn't my country anymore. And it won't be until I am dead. It makes me very sad.” He left Monterey the next year and moved to New York.
In 1948 he moved back to Monterey. A year later he met Elaine Scott, who in 1950 became his third wife.
Although he continued to write and publish, he never felt at ease in his life, and once wrote to an aspiring writer from Salinas:
“Don't think for a moment that you will ever be forgiven for being what they call ‘different.’ You won’t! I still have not been forgiven. Only when I am delivered in a pine box will I be considered ‘safe.’ After I had written the Grapes of Wrath the librarians at the Salinas Public Library, who had known my folks remarked that is was lucky my parents were dead so that they did not have to suffer this shame.”
One of Steinbeck’s two sons fought in the Vietnam War, while Steinbeck himself was in Asia covering the war for Newsday, a Long Island newspaper.
Steinbeck lost a number of friends
during the anti-war movement due to
his open support of the war and
Steinbeck’s last two books were nonfiction.
Travels with Charley in Search of America was an account of his trip from Maine to California with his poodle, Charley.
His final book, America and the Americans, was about his belief that in time, America would once again feel united.