Segments in this Video

John Steinbeck: 1902 - 1968 (05:05)


American novelist John Steinbeck had strong familial support in his youth. His intelligent parents encouraged his scholarship and his writing. The family maintained a social position through hard work and good reputation.

Inspiration from Nature (04:38)

The Steinbecks summered in Pacific Grove, a small seaside community. Steinbeck's affinity for nature, the light, sea, and trees would influence his writing in later years. The back-breaking work of harvesting crops in the Salinas Valley gave him an appreciation for the land and the workers.

Cannery Row in Monterrey (02:59)

As a boy, Steinbeck thoroughly explored the hills around Pacific Grove. The love of the land was his religion. Dominating the road along the shore of Monterey stood canning factories.

John Steinbeck - College Days (02:38)

At Stanford, Steinbeck took his literature and writing classes seriously. He could not bear the restrictions of an institution, and he did not make or keep friends easily. During his college years, he worked a series of laboring jobs.

Interest in Natural Systems (01:55)

At the Hopkins Marine Station, Steinbeck grasped philosophical ideas from studying marine biology. He saw the interdependence of nature's systems, including humans.

Hardship and Rejection (02:23)

In the family home in Pacific Grove, Steinbeck weathered the hardship and rejection that dogged his every effort to succeed. His interest in writing never flagged because he and a good friend talked a great deal about philosophy and ideas.

Birth of Steinbeck's Main Characters (02:08)

John Steinbeck married in 1931. In the same year he connected with his lifelong agents. As his mother's health declined, Steinbeck settled on the people that would come alive in his stories--people working hard on the land.

Steinbeck: Fame and Fortune (01:56)

Steinbeck wrote about the human condition as he saw it. He published "Of Mice and Men" in 1935. "Tortilla Flat" became a film, catapulting Steinbeck into fame. In 1939, film rights for "The Grapes of Wrath" brought Steinbeck $75,000.

Hollywood Fame (02:24)

Steinbeck moved into the top league in Hollywood with the success of the films of his books. With a new, supportive wife, Steinbeck wrote "East of Eden," about the Salinas Valley. The couple moved to Sag Harbor.

John Steinbeck: Nobel Prize (02:14)

In 1962, Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Critics said he was not worthy. They also criticized "The Winter of Our Discontent." Steinbeck found peace at Sag Harbor. He died in 1968.

Credits: John Steinbeck: A Concise Biography (00:30)

Credits: John Steinbeck: A Concise Biography

John Steinbeck (1902 - 1968): An Overview of His Work (06:42)

Steinbeck 's writing ranges over a wide variety of forms. His writing falls into four categories: non-fiction, plays and film scripts, short stories, and novels. The essence of Steinbeck can be found in "Of Mice and Men," and "The Grapes of Wrath."

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John Steinbeck: A Concise Biography

3-Year Streaming Price: $99.95



This program from the Famous Authors series offers an overview of John Steinbeck's life and work, beginning with his upbringing in Salinas, California, and the fields surrounding the area. The film discusses the vegetable crops in California and the great need for labor which caused the influx of migrant workers during the depression of the 1930s. Steinbeck witnessed the working of this land throughout his life and the connection between man and nature conveyed in his novels like Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath came from these observations. He spent some time at Stanford, but resented academic culture and left with few friends and no degree, but a commitment to his writing. He struggled for a while and took on manual labor jobs, but eventually found success with his novels and in Hollywood with Tortilla Flat and lasting through his career. (36 minutes)

Length: 37 minutes

Item#: BVL43985

Copyright date: ©2006

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

”Drawing on old maps, contemporary drawings and paintings, portraits and other archive material, the excellent Famous Authors series not only presents a factual outline of the writers' lives, but also conveys a clear visual picture of the social and historical background to their writing. Recommended for all ages.”—The Good Book Guide

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