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Biography of John Steinbeck

            John Steinbeck is a successful American author. He was born on February 27, 1902 in Salinas, California not too long after the Civil War had ended. Many of his novels deal with social or economic issues of this time, including some of his most successful works such as "In Dubious Battle" (1936), "Of Mice and Men" (1937), "The Long Valley" (1938), and "The Grapes of Wrath" (1939). These are great successes, but just why did he start writing? There were many influential people and circumstances in his life, most notably his early literary exposure from his mother and other sources, his desire to tell the story of the migrant workers and the land, and his strong and beneficial friendship with Ed Ricketts. This unique combination gave him the experiences and the desire to become a successful writer.
             John Steinbeck gained a love of reading and writing from a very early age. There were always books accessible in his home. His mother, Olive Steinbeck, was a school teacher and would encourage her children to read. She would also read to them often, including books like Treasure Island and Robin Hood and the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen. At the age of nine, Steinbeck received a copy of Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur from his Aunt Molly and this turned out to be a very important influence. It heightened his sense of fantasy and imagination because of its rich language and its search for a "good man." "I loved the old spelling of the words. Perhaps a passionate love for the English language opened to me from this one book"" (Reef 15). While in school, Steinbeck would write stories up in his room and send them out to magazines. His mother had always encouraged him to keep reading and writing, but when he announced at the age of 14 that he wanted to become a writer, she discouraged this as a career because it was not logical and not a wise decision. However, when he began to write articles for his school newspaper, El Gabilan, and his teachers began to praise his writing efforts, his mother realized how much talent he really had and then became supportive of his wishes.

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