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While Steinbeck was largely self-taught in biology and philosophy, his composition and also creativity were highly influenced by a series of teachers who he both feared and also revered. Amongst them were 2 of his high college teachers, Miss Cupp and Miss Hawkins. In spite of Steinbeck’s lack of academic effort and fortitude, miss out on Cupp well-known his writerly talents and considered Steinbeck her finest student, “reading his compositions to the class and holding lock up together models” (Benson 22). When Steinbeck did no bask in the glory of gift teacher’s pet, his experience with miss Cupp were the catalyst because that his decision to come to be a writer. Weird enough, however, Steinbeck go not insurance claim Miss Cupp as his favorite and most inspirational high college teacher. Rather, the admired miss Hawkins: a math teacher that possessed independence and also youth. In short, the admired her -- and also in return, she urged him to “chart his own course and also persist with his ambition” (Benson 23).

At Stanford, Steinbeck discovered himself under the tutelage the two other inspirational women. The first, Margery Bailey, was known for gift both intimidating and opinionated. She taught a variety of Steinbeck’s classes, and also hosted small literature readings because that the English department. However, since Bailey and also Steinbeck to be both assertive, they go not gain along well. Though Bailey ultimately admitted admiration for Steinbeck’s talent, and like miss Cupp gift his work-related aloud come the remainder of the class, she maintained her initial coldness through him throughout your acquaintance and even ignored a letter he sent out upon the occasion of she retirement (after he had end up being a well-established writer) (Benson 55). In direct comparison with Bailey, we have Edith Ronald Mirrielees: “by personality and appearance she was nearly the the opposite of Margery Bailey, slender, frail and gentle, vice versa, Bailey was heavy-set, heavy-featured, and also heavy-handed” (Benson 58). Mirrielees required the verbosity the end of Steinbeck’s work, and also gave that lessons in logical and also truthful creating that have the right to be traced all the means through his later on works. His philosophy of loneliness echoes her assertion the “writing have the right to never be various other than a lonely business” (Benson 59).

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Stanford girlfriend


During his time in ~ Stanford, Steinbeck emerged a number of influential and life-long friendships. The most prominent of his Stanford relations was Carlton A. Sheffield, likewise known as Duke, Dook, Juk, or Jook. Steinbeck and Sheffield were college roommates, and had countless things in common: “they to be both English majors, both wanted to be writers, and both to be nonconformists with a feeling of humor” (Benson 49). They shared a love for jokes, games, pointless thoughtful arguments, and also wild, adventurous schemes. Steinbeck to be protective that his work and stubbornly protest to criticism, however Sheffield was among very few friends that was not only enabled but motivated to offer feedback top top Steinbeck’s beforehand drafts (Benson 154). Steinbeck cared very much for Sheffield; not just did he write to Sheffield’s fiancé, Ruth Carpenter, threatening “I love this person so much that ns would reduced your charming throat must you interfere seriously through his happiness or manifest future,” (Steinbeck and Wallsten 13) but even wrote to Sheffield self in 1933: “you space the only human in the world who to trust I can do what I set out come do. Not even I think that all the time. And so, in a sort of gratitude I resolve all my composing to you, whether or not you know it” (Benson 259). It is because of the intensity of your friendship the its finish was therefore devastating. After gaining some popularity when Of Mice and Men was published, Steinbeck offered to finance Sheffield’s doctorate degree. This minute of sacrament was got as scorn, and led come a separation that made both parties feeling embarrassed, betrayed, and also estranged from every others’ lifestyles. Their friendship was not repaired until early in the 1950s, as soon as Steinbeck admitted, “I have millions of acquaintances and many skilled friends but no one to talk an easy things to and I’d prefer to get ago to you” (Steinbeck and also Wallsten 463). Lock exchanged letters for the remainder of Steinbeck’s life.

In addition to his turoulend friendship with Sheffield, Steinbeck relied ~ above the firm of George Mors, Webster “Toby” Street, and also Carl Wilhelmson. Together Steinbeck’s very first college roommate, Mors had a front-row chair to Steinbeck’s stubbornness, indecision, and also impulsivity. Mors was a committed engineering student without whom “Steinbeck more than likely would not have actually lasted as long as that did in his very first tenure in ~ the university” (Benson 36). Of food Mors was the happy recipient the Steinbeck’s notorious note: “gone to China. Watch you again sometime” (Benson 43) (Steinbeck’s dream that escaping come China was short-lived; as result of his absence of seafaring experience, no captain would take that aboard).

Toby Street and Carl Wilhelmson were additional members the the Stanford English Club founded by the formidable Margery Bailey. Both were writers, despite Steinbeck was many eager to collaborate with Street. In fact, the storyline that To a God Unknown is lifted straight from a beat Street drafted because that a writing course at Stanford (not plagiarized; Street gifted his manuscript to Steinbeck to watch if he might make other of it) (Steinbeck and also Wallsten 14). Throughout the beforehand stages of Steinbeck’s divorce native Carol (and marriage to Gwyn), Street ended up being not just Steinbeck’s attorney however one the his closestly friends, offering audience come Steinbeck’s marital concerns and also anxieties.

In Carl Wilhelmson Steinbeck saw a kindred spirit; a man interested in writing over all else, whose self-reliance was, to usage Steinbeck’s phraseology, “true,” in the it was purely acquired from fascinating and unique life experiences (Benson 119). Steinbeck and Wilhelmson shared a mountain Francisco apartment during the early on 1930s, where Steinbeck felt significant agitation as a an outcome of Wilhelmson’s according to typewriter bell and also bleak attitude. However, in spite of their incompatibility together roommates, Steinbeck and also Wilhelmson stayed friends for a lengthy time, and Wilhelmson offered as the sounding board for Steinbeck’s concerns about his friendship through Sheffield.

The Cannery row Contingent

A conversation of Steinbeck’s impacts would be incomplete there is no a mentionofEdRicketts. Entire books have been written endeavouring to unpack the vast inspirationthese two guys gleaned from each various other (see Steinbeck and also Ricketts by RichardAstro); the is animpossible task to carry out their connection justice in a only paragraph. Ricketts, born in Chicago in 1897, ran the Pacific organic Laboratory in Cannery Row. The lab became the epicenter for parties, discussions, and also philosophical gamboling. Just put, Steinbeck and also Ricketts offered each various other as sounding boards for obscure and also fascinating thoughtful ideas. They worked together to refine Steinbeck’s concept of the phalanx (a theory about group habits that Steinbeck pondered while caring because that his sick mother), his concept of non-teleological thinking (a philosophy stemming native Ricketts’ idealization the “true” things), and also they even co-authored a book. In 1940, Steinbeck, Ricketts, Steinbeck’s an initial wife Carol, and a crew of eclectic seafarers left Monterey bay on an expedition to the Sea the Cortez, wherein they gathered and learned numerous varieties of maritime life and speculated on their varying ideologies of life, human and also animal. The publication that resulted, Sea the Cortez, is a virtually 600-page conglomeration that journal, philosophy, and also taxonomy the truly symbolizes the nature of their friendship.

Ricketts’ affect on Steinbeck is perhaps ideal explained in Steinbeck’s own words, and also Steinbeck gave us many to choose from; Ricketts is immortalized as the personality “Doc” in Cannery row and Sweet Thursday. While this fictitious characterization that Ricketts is absolutely romanticized, the accurately conveys the ultimate respect and reverence Steinbeck organized for his friend. Katharine A. Rodger explains: “Steinbeck’s Doc is both an exact and an exaggerated portrait of Ed Ricketts. Doc’s attention in philosophy, music, and also poetry derives directly from Ricketts’ own” (il). In both novels, Steinbeck share true story from Ricketts’ life and also even has direct referrals to the music and literature the Ricketts discovered so overwhelmingly inspiring. V these works and others (Ricketts is considered feasible inspiration for the personalities of Jim Casey in Grapes the Wrath, Lee in East of Eden, Dr. Winter in The Moon is under (Rodger xxv), and Doc Burton in In Dubious Battle), Steinbeck truly common Ricketts’ overwhelming spirit with his readers. But these fictitious depictions were not enough. After Ricketts’ untimely death in 1948, Steinbeck composed a tribute referred to as “About Ed Ricketts” that ended up being the preface to a new edition the Sea that Cortez (this brand-new edition, referred to as The log from the Sea the Cortez, did not list Ricketts together co-author). In this tribute, Steinbeck exhibits the pain the felt in Ricketts’ death, and also honors their impressive friendship:

Knowing Ed Ricketts was instant. After ~ the first moment i knew him, and also for the following eighteen years i knew him much better than ns knew anyone, and also perhaps i did not understand him in ~ all. Probably it to be that way with all of his friends. He was various from anyone and yet so favor that everyone discovered himself in Ed, and that might be one of the reasons his death had such an impact. That wasn"t Ed who had actually died however a big and important component of oneself.” (America and also Americans 184)

Fellow Writers and also Artists

Another member that the Cannery row club was the young and also yet undiscovered Joseph Campbell. It happened that Joseph Campbell, who would become renowned for numerous works on to compare mythology and religion, moved into the residence next door come Ricketts’ residence just together Steinbeck discovered himself slogging v To a God Unknown (a publication that draws significant inspiration indigenous the interplay of religion and also myth). Campbell later described that he and also Steinbeck learned an extremely much native each various other (and Ricketts, of course). That felt “that few of the mythic pictures in may have come out of their discussions,” (Benson 223) and also he was practically certainly correct; Steinbeck often transcribed personal discussions and also conversations right into his novels. Truly, those philosophical and drunken night must have actually left an impression top top both writers, as after discussions the Carl Jung and also group readings of Finnegan’s Wake, Campbell went on to compose a seminal contribution to Joyce studies: A Skeleton an essential to Finnegan’s wake up (published 1944). It is no tiny coincidence the Steinbeck, Ricketts, and Campbell all went on to be very successful in their writing, each illustration from ideas tossed approximately in activities parties that would thrill the likes the Doc, Mack, and also the boys.

Though Steinbeck clashed with many famous authors of his time (he was well-known to randomly burst out in criticisms of Hemingway, and also was decidedly rude to Faulkner (Benson 770)), that did find companionship in the sometimes author and artist. One such friend was best-selling novelist and short story writer John O’Hara. Steinbeck staunchly protected O’Hara as soon as his occupational received poor reviews, and enjoyed his company despite their personality distinctions (O’Hara was constantly tailored and neat, and also sought the approval the peers prefer Hemingway and also Faulkner) (Benson 699). Benson ideal described their friendship as soon as he wrote: “Steinbeck invested time through people because they had actually humor, because they to be interesting, or due to the fact that they were comfortable and relaxing, not due to the fact that of who or what lock were. He involved know man O’Hara, not since he was a writer, but he to be a friend of john O’Hara’s due to the fact that he was a kind and interesting man” (798). And also their friendship lasted through challenging times. Once Steinbeck to be hospitalized with a detached retina, O’Hara drove practically an hour every day come the hospital in order to sit, talk, and also read to Steinbeck. Steinbeck appreciated this gift of time so much he inquiry of O’Hara, “if ns pretended an excellent pain - couldn’t you come once again?” (Benson 926-7). That course, O’Hara did, for countless years. And he satellite in the church one hour before Steinbeck’s funeral service began, praying (Benson 1037).

Edward Albee, a famous American playwright 26 years Steinbeck’s junior, was an additional cherished writer-friend who Steinbeck admired for reasons past written work. In fact, because of the nature of their friendship, Albee was an honorary pallbearer in ~ Steinbeck’s funeral. The 2 met in 1962 after ~ Albee’s Who’s fear of Virginia Woolf debuted, and also Steinbeck ended up inviting Albee to accompany him and also Elaine top top a cultural exchange tourism of the Soviet Union (Benson 925). While Albee was not as inspirational as some of Steinbeck’s friends, he common with the Steinbecks the fear, pressure, and also claustrophobia of travel in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Sharing such an experience formed a solid friendship.

Though Steinbeck resented several of his contemporaries because of their Hollywood glamour and an excellent publicity, he relied heavily on correspondence v artists who mutual his understanding of art as the product of loneliness. Bo Beskow, a sweden portrait artist, muralist, and also illustrator, to be a witness to Steinbeck’s feelings throughout some that the most difficult times in his life. In a 1937 letter, after ~ a visit come Sweden throughout which Beskow painted his very first portrait of Steinbeck, Steinbeck wrote, “I’m sure that our conference was not among those things that happens and also ends. We are confident of that now” (Steinbeck and Wallsten 142). Steinbeck to be correct in this assertion. An ext than ten years later, Steinbeck went back to Sweden for a visit through Beskow and also a second portrait. The confided in him around his marital pertains to with Gwyn, and relied on him to fill the space Ed Ricketts left once he passed. He wrote Beskow in 1948:

Well, I will be writing to you frequently now. There room times of verbosity and also times of silence. I may shot to fill up one lack with you and you need to not mind that. Anytime I believed of a good thought or snapshot - ns wondered what Ed would think the it and also how he would slam it? The need is there. Perhaps you who have actually taken component of that will have to take all of it now, at least for a while. (Steinbeck and Wallsten 314)

In 1957, Beskow painted his third and last portrait of man Steinbeck.

Though lock didn’t accomplish until later on in life, the bond Steinbeck developed with medieval scholar and Malory expert Eugene Vinaver was among the most inspirational the his life. V the assist of Vinaver, professor the French language and literature at the university of Manchester, Steinbeck had the opportunity to explore countless texts and also archives devoted to his oldest and also strongest source of inspiration: cutting board Malory’s Morte D’Arthur. Elaine described Steinbeck and also Vinaver’s very first meeting together “absolute magic. They simply adored each other” (Benson 817). Vinaver aided Steinbeck in his research study for his final significant writing project, an adaptation of Malory’s Arthurian legend that, unfortunately, Steinbeck never had actually the chance to finish. Steinbeck and Vinaver to be in post for many years, and also Steinbeck important cherished Vinaver’s advice, guidance, and understanding throughout a writing process that to be so personal. Unfortunately, due to a mishandling of information about the public of a newly found Arthurian legend (neither Steinbeck nor Vinaver was to blame because that the mishap), their friendship was tarnished, and Steinbeck shed the indict of one whom he so admired, and, probably as a result, never finished his project. However, “when The acts of King Arthur and also His Noble Knights was released after John’s death, Vinaver saw the BBC to worship it” (Benson 977).

Another artist who Steinbeck found an especially inspirational to be author and screenwriter Budd Schulberg. Quickly after the watts Riots in 1965, Schulberg gotten in the scene, determined to foster change. He developed the watt Writers’ Workshops v the on purpose of teaching an imaginative writing come the agitated youth of Watts, CA. Steinbeck observed the value in this project and became involved, recommending the team for capital to the nationwide Endowment for the arts (Benson 987). Steinbeck, close to the finish of his life, confided to Schulberg the he clearly saw the contrast in between himself, one aging effective writer, and also the new, young writers of Watts: “I know they’re angry and feel top top the bottom the they’ve acquired nothing since we take it it all-- but I envy those young writers… it is my trouble. I don"t think I have actually anything to say anymore” (Benson 1029). In spite of the moribund ton of this statement, it truly reflects Steinbeck’s id in living her writing, and writing your life. His partnership with Schulberg helped him promote this ideology, also when the felt his own an imaginative fount had actually dried up.


Steinbeck was extremely interested in journalism, and also took numerous opportunities to flex his editorial muscles during each war or political occasion he lived through. Most significant to the in his journalist initiatives was Ernie Pyle, the Pulitzer prize winning battle correspondent. Throughout his time documenting the second World War, Steinbeck would, favor Pyle, “not shot to compete for the difficult news however would work-related to see points that had actually been overlooked or to see in different way things the had already been reported. That would become a correspondent of perspective--not telling us new, but seeing that new. In his worry for the commonplace and also in his preference for the plain soldier, he came to be in many ways a correspondent” (Benson 519-20). Once Steinbeck uncovered himself yet again playing the duty of war correspondent in Vietnam in 1967, “he preserved thinking the Ernie Pyle and Bob Capa” (Benson 1006).

Robert Capa, “one the the an excellent photojournalists that the mid-twentieth century” (Benson598), affected Steinbeck in a method that rivaled even Ed Ricketts. That was with Capa that Steinbeck toured Russia, will on learning “the good other side” (A Russian journal 4) the Russian life; in various other words, to reveal the typical lives that the Russian civilization during a time of too much political upset (this pilgrimage culminated in Steinbeck"s A Russian Journal). While Steinbeck disagreed with few of Capa’s company techniques (for example, providing American trinkets in exchange because that a picture then forgetting to offer said trinkets (Benson 606)), he truly admired him as a friend, colleague, and artist. In a tribute created after Capa’s death, Steinbeck wrote: “I worked and also traveled v Capa a great deal. He might have had actually closer friends however he had none that loved that more” (America and also Americans 217). Benson affirms this statement, explain “Robert Capa was a wild, audacious, funny man, a perfect companion because that Steinbeck” (598). It seems their mutual experiences in Russia and mutual appreciation for individual integrity and truth in arts truly heightened your respect for each other. Steinbeck claimed of Capa:

The greatness the Capa is twofold. We have his pictures, a true and an essential record of our time - ugly and also beautiful, collection down by the psychic of an artist. Yet Capa had one more work which may be even an ext important. He gathered young men around him, encouraged, instructed, even fed and also clothed them, but ideal he teach them respect for their art and also integrity in the performance. He showed to them the a man have the right to live by this medium and still it is in true to himself. And never once did he shot to get them to take it his kind of picture. Therefore the result of Capa will certainly be discovered in every the guys who functioned with him. Lock will bring a little component of Capa all their lives and perhaps hand him on to your young men. (America and Americans 218)

Steinbeck had countless close girlfriend who common this comparable trait, this love of reality in art and expression--the list contains Ed Ricketts, Bo Beskow, and Budd Shulberg. But Steinbeck truly drew a heightened motivation from Capa’s energy and commitment. According to Benson, “after he obtained the news John simply went out and also walked almost everywhere Paris because that fourteen hours. During the last decade of his life, john suffered several losses the friends, however Capa’s fatality seemed come hit the hardest the all” (754).

Social Activists

The 1930s were a time of unrest both because that Steinbeck and the United states economy. Until the publishing (and how amazing success) the Tortilla level in 1935, Steinbeck was in search of his audience and niche together a writer. However, made mindful of the injustices excellent to migrants together a result of the great Depression and the Dust Bowl, Steinbeck discovered himself immersed in a job that would certainly test his abilities as a journalist and challenge his tenacity together an American man. He took pleasure in the companionship and also guidance that Tom Collins, manager the the Arvin camp because that migrant job in Kern County. Collins to be the catalyst for the Grapes that Wrath relief-camp manager Jim Rawley. Collins was a notoriously tough worker, i beg your pardon Steinbeck admired. As a team, they no only recorded injustices however caused physical readjust in the migrant camps. Charles Wollenberg writes, “they observed the terrible effects of that winter’s floods top top the central Valley’s “Little Oklahomas”” (xiv). Collins later described how he and Steinbeck worked “for forty-eight hours, and without food or sleep,” help “sick and half-starved world whose camps had actually been destroyed by the floods.” “We couldn’t speak to one an additional because us were also tired,” Collins remembered, “yet we operated together as cogs in an complex piece of machinery” (Wollenberg xiv).

Collins and Steinbeck stayed friends till Steinbeck’s life took a correct turn following his separation indigenous Carol. Collins, favor so plenty of of Steinbeck’s cherished friends, own the appreciation for the true and also genuine. Benson says that the relationship between Collins and also Steinbeck was not unlike that of Ricketts and Steinbeck. He writes that Collins and Ricketts, “both were an extremely unusual, an extremely talented men, and each had actually that inspired, idiosyncratic, highly individualistic strategy to life that frequently marks the male of genius” (378). Such were the men Steinbeck determined to surround himself with. Such were the men who made him feel most inspired.

Though no necessarily a nearby friend, Steinbeck likewise found great inspiration in documentary filmmaker Pare Lorentz. Steinbeck first met Lorentz in 1938 through mutual acquaintances studying and also photographing Dust bowl migrants. Exposure to Lorentz’s work-related on his Dust key documentary (The Plow That damaged the Plains) was key in Steinbeck’s decision to abandon his satirical initial draft of a Dust bowl novel (L’Affaire Lettuceberg) and begin again, this time embarking ~ above the more serious manuscript of The Grapes that Wrath. As Benson explains, v interactions with Collins and also Lorentz, Steinbeck learned that his early stage satirical method to the Dust Bowl tale was “a cheap treatment would certainly not carry out justice come the dignity the his subject. His use of the flood as the final setting in his finished novel, pitting the human spirit, in extremis, against the murderous indifference of society and nature, argues just just how deep a mark the experience had actually made on him” (377). Benson walk on come say, “Lorentz’s dramas gave Steinbeck a feeling of style and tone whereby he could strategy his material--seriously, lyrically, documentarily--material the previously had wasted in a lightweight satire” (399). Despite Steinbeck later denied Lorentz’s influence on his work, he clearly benefited from working with one more visionary prefer himself, someone v a message, both political and also artistic.


Steinbeck was married 3 times. Each marriage is palpable in his writing; if Steinbeck never claimed to it is in a “doting husband” (Shillinglaw 112), constantly putting his work before his mam (though often not consciously), he to be vastly influenced by every woman"s interests, temperament, and also input. That met his an initial wife, Carol Henning, if he to be serving as caretaker because that a residential property in Lake Tahoe during the late 1920s. Shillinglaw describes Carol together “handsome, forthright, lively. She was also very, an extremely funny and also irreverent, a angry woman with a bon mot--perhaps not quite Hemingway’s version of the brand-new Woman, Brett Ashley, but close enough for John…. Through Carol, a mrs of quips and also asides, curiosity and also intelligence, the most definitely found words--they talked nonstop. Carol to be a catalyst because that John, essential to his creativity. The was true indigenous their an initial meeting” (38). At this time in his life, Steinbeck craved participation, finding impetus for his creating in conversation with his friends (Shillinglaw 77). Carol important participated; she not just typed many manuscripts (including The Grapes the Wrath), but partook in every action of the creative process, frequently acting together “editor and sounding board” (Shillinglaw 82). This is of food most noticeable in Steinbeck’s dedication come Grapes the Wrath, which reads: “To Carol, that willed this book. To Tom , that lived it.” It to be Carol’s initial fascination v the Okies that led Steinbeck to investigate the Dust key migration and its effects. Truly, Carol to be responsible for helping Steinbeck complete the functions that provided him a name: Tortilla Flat, Grapes that Wrath, that Mice and Men. Though their marriage ended violently in 1941 in light of Steinbeck"s affair v Gwyn Conger, Carol and John preserved correspondence throughout their lives, and also John to be comfortable v the expertise that, in Shillinglaw’s words, “ was still in his camp, in the method that count most, his art” (260).

Steinbeck found Gwyn Conger, his 2nd wife and also the mother of his children, during a separation indigenous Carol ~ a fight. Gwyn, a beautiful and also seductive twenty-year old jazz singer native Los Angeles was seventeen year Steinbeck’s junior. Gwyn to be a direct contrast to Carol’s nearly masculine strength. Gwyn revived Steinbeck’s sexuality and also reminded the of his desire because that domesticity, other Carol tried but failed to provide. However, problems in their relationship started early on; due to the fact that of the innately vain nature that his marital relationship with Carol, Steinbeck “insisted that offer up she career entirely and stay in ~ home, perhaps clues to… his will to develop a various pattern for his partnership with Gwyn” (Benson 494). The 1940s significant a difficult decade in Steinbeck’s career. He and Gwyn married, had two sons, then divorced in 1948. Steinbeck created to Bo Beskow, “after over four years of bitterness unhappiness Gwyn has chose she wants a divorce, so the is that. That is an old story of woman frustration. She wants something i can’t provide her, therefore she must go top top looking. And maybe she will certainly never find out that no one can give it come her” (Steinbeck and Wallsten 319). Steinbeck suffered really much ~ receiving Gwyn’s request for a divorce, though he go on to tell Beskow that Gwyn “killed love of her with little cruelties” (319). This “little cruelties” contained years that unfaithfulness and manipulation (Benson 619) that slowly ate away at the passionate love Steinbeck felt for her. However, this enthusiasm was no as noticeable in Steinbeck’s work as his love because that Carol. Steinbeck’s writing during his marriage to Gwyn was highly experimental, and is, through the exemption of Cannery Row, often overlooked by contemporary audiences.

With his third and final wife, Elaine Scott, Steinbeck finally discovered peace. In a 1950 letter toBo Beskow, Steinbeck explained, “My Elaine is a wonderful girl. I can write through her sit in the room through me and that’s the ideal that have the right to be said about her calmness and benignity. That is the first peace ns have had actually with a woman” (Benson 659). Through Elaine, Steinbeck gone after his many passionate goals: the composing of East of Eden, which he referred to as “the only publication he had ever before written” (Journal of a Novel 5), and also his loose project motivated by medieval literature. Elaine attach him to England, where they resided in Somerset while Steinbeck worked on his Arthurian research. She sustained the cross-country trip that led to his take trip journal Travels v Charley trying to find America, a crucial proclamation that masculinity during a time once Steinbeck felt truly weakened through age and illness. She assisted him find comfort ~ above the East coastline in the purchase of the Sag harbor home. But perhaps many importantly, she guided the through few of the most difficult times of his life: his divorce and also dealings with Gwyn, the increasing of his children, his journalistic efforts during the Vietnam War, and also finally the slow decrease of his health. Benson suggested, Nearly all your friends have made a suggest of remarking the without Elaine, or with a wife much less spirited and also capable, he would not have been maybe to find the peace to live through himself throughout what turned out to be a process of consistent deterioration” (1027). In Elaine, Steinbeck rejoiced to discover the feeling of comfort, stability, and also strength the he tried to find in his previous 2 marriages.

Show Business and also Hollywood

As is often the situation with writers who have earned critical acclaim, Steinbeck’s circle of friends and influences grew to incorporate a variety of famous men and women. While Steinbeck never ever truly feel at house with numerous of his upper-class, tinsel-town acquaintances, there were some v whom he developed a strong connection. One in specific was Frank Loesser, one American composer eight year Steinbeck’s junior. Loesser is most renowned for creating the music and also lyrics to Guys and Dolls. Susan Shillinglaw writes, “whenever John was in Hollywood, Frank and Lynn joined in the fun, and the foursome behaved ‘like a bunch the youngsters,’... Going come seedy bars, singing in taxis, concocting off-beat schemes” (Shillinglaw 213). But beyond being a “kindred spirit” (Benson 502) and resource of great absurdity and amusement throughout the war years, frank Loesser to be a reliable and also comforting friend to Steinbeck in his final days. Benson wrote of Loesser’s impact on Steinbeck during his hospice:

Frank Loesser, who had always been a distinct friend, was a constant visitor. He talked while he walked, and also he walked every the time, through his hands stuffed right into his back pockets, and also told his stories everywhere the room. For John, come be with Frank was prefer a tonic, a sudden injection that life and laughter, and also on one occasion, John was in his dressing gown sit in the life room, once Frank go in to view him. At when they to be in a people of their own, and it was together if nothing had changed. (1034)

One that Steinbeck’s initial forays right into show organization was through George S. Kaufman, famous playwright and director most famed for his work-related on Loesser’s Tony award winning “Guys and also Dolls.” Kaufman, by method of his mam (East shore representative of Samuel Goldwyn Pictures), uncovered Steinbeck’s Of Mice and also Men well suited to the stage and also guided Steinbeck with a number of edits to adapt it come a performance item (Benson 351). Once the play opened up in 1937, Steinbeck wrote to Kaufman: “to say say thanks to you is ridiculous for you can’t give thanks to a man for good work any much more than you have the right to thank him because that being himself. However one can be really glad that is himself and that is what us are--very happy you room George Kaufman” (Steinbeck and Wallsten 144). Unfortunately, despite his gratitude, Steinbeck did not attend any kind of of the brand-new York performances that his successful brand-new show--a slight the Kaufman feel personally and deeply as time passed, specifically considering that throughout the production procedure he found Steinbeck somewhat disengaged (Benson 363). Year later, however, in 1947, Steinbeck acknowledged the minimal amount of work-related he put right into the production of Of Mice and also Men, and also gave complete credit for its success to George S. Kaufman (Benson 594).

Another well known performer and unlikely friend of Steinbeck’s to be Charlie Chaplin, the well known mustachioed mime of the quiet film era. In fact, Benson attributes Steinbeck’s enthusiasm and also eagerness because that film adaptations the his novels come Chaplin’s affect (383). Lock made every other’s acquaintance when Chaplin quit by Steinbeck’s residence to introduce himself; he to be fascinated by Steinbeck’s work. Benson go on come say the of the countless actors and “Hollywood people” Steinbeck pertained to know throughout the so late thirties and also early forties, “Chaplin was among the very few with whom, because that a time, had any kind of kind of close relationship” (384).

But perhaps Steinbeck’s most essential Hollywood friend was director Elia Kazan.Steinbeck and Kazan functioned on a variety of projects together, including the movie adaptation the Steinbeck’s East the Eden and the film Viva Zapata!, because that which Steinbeck wrote an initial screenplay. During the filming that “Zapata” (their first project together), Steinbeck wrote, “I think the will understand well what ns am talking about--more than any type of other American director and surely much better than any type of Mexican director” (Benson 626). Benson wrote of their personal relationship:

During the consequences of John’s separation indigenous Gwyn, when Steinbeck was enduring intense pain, Kazan had actually spent plenty of a night, all night, with him in ~ the Bedford Hotel, help him live through what had actually seemed to it is in the breakup of his totality world and the loss of the great love that his life. Because then, they had actually become, in Kazan’s words, “like brothers--he was constantly my friend, no issue what, and also I was always his friend, no issue what.” while Steinbeck was often silent through people, even world he knew well, he can talk easily to Kazan… lock were really frank through each other. “He’d phone call me everything around his life,” Kazan recalls, “his troubles and also anxieties. The was not what he showed up to be, a good strong guy, yet he was likewise a solid man—both.” (722)


Unsurprisingly, since so countless of his texts feature strong political undertones, Steinbeck admired and made the acquaintance that a number of influential politicians. However, the politician Steinbeck admired many was Adlai Stevenson. Stevenson was a Democrat who ran because that president in 1952, ‘56, and also ‘60 (he was beat by Eisenhower in ‘52 and ‘56, and by Kennedy in the primaries in ‘60). Steinbeck supported Stevenson throughout each of his runs, and the two became close friends. In a foreword come a released booklet that Stevenson’s campaign speeches, Steinbeck wrote, “I think Stevenson is more durable, socially, politically and morally… together a writer i love the clear, clean writing of Stevenson. As a male I like his intelligent, humorous, logical, polite mind” (America and also Americans 222). Follow to Benson, “in enhancement to gift friend, Stevenson ended up being the representation for him of American politics lugged to its highest possible level… Stevenson came to stand because that the opportunity of a nationwide policy that was rational and also compassionate” (971). Steinbeck’s hope because that the future of America weakened once Stevenson passed far in 1965, and apart indigenous his admiration of Kennedy during a too-brief term, Steinbeck never concerned trust, respect, and support another politician so resolutely.

However, immediately after the assassination of chairman Kennedy, Steinbeck composed to Jacqueline Kennedy to express his condolences. This letter initiated a correspondence between the 2 that resulted in Mrs. Kennedy’s request the Steinbeck create her husband’s biography. He didn’t; despite he toyed through the idea the memorializing Kennedy making use of an Arthurian legend device. Despite spending far-ranging time planning, that did not create the book. Rather, he explained to Mrs. Kennedy, “and you are fairly right as soon as you speak a publication is only a book and also he was a man and also he is dead. The publication could only be of value if it helped to store the essential and contributing component of the alive, and such a point will need to wait until the agony and poison drains away and also only the enduring permanence remains” (Steinbeck and Wallsten 799). Though her period of correspondence through Steinbeck to be brief, Mrs. Kennedy later wrote to Elaine, “you will never understand what it supposed to me come talk through your husband in those days--I review his letters now--and ns am as moved as ns was then--All his wisdom, his compassion, his far-seeing check out of things--I can not remember the type of publication we to be discussing, but I to be glad it wasn’t written. His letters say an ext than a whole publication could--I will treasure them all my life” (Steinbeck and also Wallsten 801).

Of course, after Kennedy’s assassination Lyndon B. Johnson came to be President of the joined States. Together such, it dropped to the to existing Steinbeck v the Medal of flexibility that Kennedy had actually intended because that Steinbeck. This presentation initiated a lasting friendship and also loyalty in between the 2 men, and also rekindled one old friendship between Ladybird Johnson and also Elaine (both attended the college of Texas (Benson 948)). Despite Steinbeck was not an initial supporter of Johnson’s (as he to be staunchly dedicated to Stevenson), he later wrote to an advisor of Johnson’s, “Elaine and I carry out not give our allegiance readily, but once given, we do not withdraw it” (Barden xv). It to be this mutual loyalty and respect the led Johnson to ask Steinbeck to go to Vietnam. When Steinbeck walk not desire to go together Johnson’s an individual correspondent, he was happy come go together an independent reporter (Barden xvii). Steinbeck witnessed and experienced violent combat and also hardship, and also his observations in Vietnam solidified his distaste because that the war. However, his loyalty to his party, his children (both sons battled in Vietnam), and his chairman led him to keep his wartime experiences and also opinions quiet for the remainder that his life (Barden xvi).

Editors and also Agents

While Steinbeck repetitively proclaimed that writing was a lonely and an individual process, that relied really heavily on the assistance of his editors, publishers, and agents. One of the an initial to publish Steinbeck’s work and pledge his loyalty to the author was Robert O. Ballou that Cape and Smith. Ballou functioned tirelessly because that Steinbeck, and also when Cape and also Smith go bankrupt, Ballou brought Steinbeck follow me to a new publishing agency (Benson 253). Unfortunately, the brand-new company go bankrupt together well. Again, Ballou do the efforts to save Steinbeck in print, this time beginning his own company. Yet Ballou was never ever able to stay afloat. As Benson explained, “Ballou should be provided credit for standing by Steinbeck at a an essential time, and also the irony of his loyalty was that it didn’t critical quite long enough. If he had actually been able to stay with Steinbeck for one more book, he could well have recovered his losses and gone on to share in Steinbeck’s success. Nevertheless, that was among the couple of who backed Steinbeck throughout the poor times” (259).

Following Robert O. Ballou together publisher to be Pascal Covici that Covici-Friede, that sought outSteinbeck together a client after staying up every night analysis Cup of gold and Pastures the Heaven. Covici was not only a reputable publisher and also editor but likewise a steadfast and supportive friend, help Steinbeck through what he defined as the “dark time” (Benson 630) complying with his break-up from Gwyn, and also acting together the recipient for what Steinbeck taken into consideration the publication he had “practiced for” (Journal the a Novel 124), East of Eden. Covici at one point gave Steinbeck a big bound notebook (until this suggest Steinbeck wrote exclusively in ledger books), and Steinbeck embraced this gift by start his work virtually every morning v a handwritten letter to Covici on the left next of the notebook (Benson 671). This letters space compiled in Steinbeck’s posthumous Journal of a Novel, and carry out fascinating insight into Steinbeck’s composing process, expectations, and life. Steinbeck wrote 2 beautiful dedications to Covici; the an initial is additionally the dedication to East of Eden:

Dear Pat,

You come upon me carving some kind of little figure out of wood and also you said, “Why don’t you do something because that me?”

I request what you wanted, and you said, “A box.”

“What for?”

“To put things in.”

“What things?”

“Whatever you have,” girlfriend said.

Well, here’s your box. Almost everything I have actually is in it, and it is not full. Pain and also excitement are in it, and feeling an excellent or bad and also evil thoughts and good thoughts--the satisfied of design and also some despair and also the indescribable pleasure of the creation. And on top of these space all the gratitude and also love I have for you.

And still the box is not full.


The second was a speech given at Covici’s funeral in 1964:

Pat Covici was much much more than my friend. He was my editor. Just a writer can understand just how a great editor is father, mother, teacher, an individual devil and an individual god. For thirty years Pat to be my collaborator and my conscience. He demanded more of me 보다 I had and also thereby brought about me to be much more than i should have been without him. (Benson 961)

Perhaps the most continuous and reliable presence throughout Steinbeck’s life was the of his literary agents, Mavis McIntosh and also Elizabeth Otis. Steinbeck began working v the two women, fresh out of college at the time, in 1930. With their influence, advice, and also loyalty, Steinbeck wrote and published tirelessly. Elizabeth Otis, in particular, aided him through his most difficult and amazing editorial decisions. She is responsible for the spectacular finish to East the Eden, as after reading Steinbeck’s an initial draft she called him, “this is no way to end this good big book. The ridiculous. You certainly were in a hurry… walk home… and also sit this out” (Benson 694). It is difficult to execute justice to their relationship, however of course Steinbeck self sums the up well in a 1955 letter: “I love you an extremely dearly and also have never ever been maybe to demonstrate it--perhaps due to a curious unpleasant stiffness ~ above the component of every of us. Also, ns remember everything--EVERYTHING and also I am thankful for all of it and every one of you. And also now I will certainly draw earlier into the small house the shyness in which we both live” (Benson 779). If more proof is essential to show the depth and also extent of their relationship, it have the right to be uncovered in the last letter he ever before wrote; addressed to Elizabeth and tucked under his blotter, never sent, the read: “I have actually owed friend this letter because that a an extremely long time--but mine fingers have avoided this pencil as though it to be an old and also poisoned tool” (Steinbeck and Wallsten 861). Elizabeth Otis stood v Elaine in ~ Steinbeck’s bedside the night he died, simply as she stood v him in 1930 when he needed help coming the end of his residence of shyness.

Works Cited

Barden, cutting board E. Introduction. Steinbeck in Vietnam: Dispatches from the War, by man Steinbeck. U that Virginia P, 2012, pp. Xi-xxiii. Print.

Benson, Jackson J. John Steinbeck, Writer. Penguin Books, 1990. Print.

Rodger, Katharine A. Renaissance man of Cannery Row: The Life and Letters that Edward F. Ricketts. U the Alabama P, 2002, pp xi-liv. Print.

Shillinglaw, Susan. Carol and John Steinbeck: Portrait the a Marriage. U the Nevada P, 2013.

Steinbeck, John. America and Americans and also Selected Nonfiction. Ed. Susan Shillinglaw and Jackson J. Benson. 2002. Penguin Books, 2003. Print.

A Russian Journal. 1948. Penguin Classics, 2000. Print.

— journal of a Novel: The eastern of Eden Letters. 1969. Penguin Books, 1990. Print.

— Steinbeck: A Life in Letters. Ed. Elaine Steinbeck and Robert Wallsten. 1975. Penguin Books, 1989. Print.

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Wollenberg, Charles. Introduction. The Harvest Gypsies: ~ above the road to the Grapes of Wrath, by man Steinbeck. 1936. Heyday, 1988. Print.