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John Steinbeck

Born: 1902-02-27 - Died: 1968-12-20
Cause of Death:
Heart Disease


Death Summary: Steinbeck died in New York City of heart disease and congestive heart failure. He was known to be a life-long smoker.

Who was John Steinbeck : John Steinbeck is an American writer who is credited for writing some of the most important novels of the 20th century. Many of his works are required readings in classrooms around the country.

John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California, and is of German and Irish descent. He was part of a middle class family, with his dad working as Monterey County's treasurer and his mom was a former school teacher. The family lived in a small rural town, which many believe provides a lot of the inspiration behind Steinbeck's work. Steinbeck attended Stanford University, but eventually dropped out before receiving a degrees. He would move to New York City to try and become a writer.

His time in New York City was met with failure, so he moved back to California. He worked at a few jobs, and met his first wife Carol during one of them. His father would eventually provide Steinbeck with lodging and the means to focus solely on his writing career. Steinbeck's first success was a novel titled, Tortilla Flat, which lifted his family out of poverty. The book was made into a movie in 1942, starring Spencer Tracy, and Hedy Lamarr. He followed this up in the next year with a book titled "In Dubious Battle".

Steinbeck's second successful book was titled "Of Mice and Men" and was written in the form of a play. The book follows the struggles of two ranch hands, who try and earn enough money to open a place of their own. The book has been made into a movie three times in the past 70 years. A couple of years after "Of Mice and Men", Steinbeck followed it up with "The Grapes of Wrath". Many consider this book to be the best Steinbeck ever wrote, and some believe it to be the greatest novel of the 20th century. He received a Pulitzer Prize for the novel, and along with Of Mice and Men, was made into a movie.

It wouldn't be until 1952 that Steinbeck had another critical success, the book titled "East of Eden". This was the final book in what would become known as the "Dustbowl Trilogy" along with Of Mice and Men, and Grapes of Wrath. Like the two before it, East of Eden received the movie treatment, and starred James Dean.

After East of Eden, Steinbeck never reached the same amount of success, though did continue writing. In 1964, Lyndon Johnson awarded Steinbeck with the United States Medal of Freedom due to the impact of his work.

Steinbeck died in 1968, but his work would continue to impact generations to come. Of Mice and Men and Grapes of Wrath are on a large number of high school curriculums throughout the US. Steinbeck's works are also targets of many censorship initiatives, due to adult language and themes.
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