John Steinbeck

Questions and Answers

Question: When was John Steinbeck born?

Answer: John Ernst Steinbeck was born on 27 February 1902, in Salinas, California, United States.

Question: What was John Steinbeck’s family background?

Answer: His father, John Ernst Steinbeck, was a county treasurer and his mother, Olive Hamilton Steinbeck, was a teacher. He had two elder sisters, Esther and Elizabeth, and one younger sister, Mary.

Question: Did John Steinbeck marry and have children?

Answer: He was married to Carol Henning between 1930 and 1942. Steinbeck was married to his second wife, Gwyndolyn Conger, between 1943 and 1948, during which time he had two sons, Thomas (born 1944) and John (born 1946). He was married to his third wife Elaine Anderson Scott from 1950 until his death.

Question: What was his educational background?

Answer: He graduated from the Salinas High School, Salinas in 1919. He attended Stanford University intermittently from 1919 to 1925 but he never earned a degree.

Question: What is his works generally about?

Answer: His works generally deal with the social and economic issues of rural America.

Question: When did John Steinbeck receive the Nobel Prize?

Answer: John Steinbeck received the Nobel Medal and Diploma on 10 December 1962 from the Swedish King Gustaf VI Adolf, at the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony held at the Stockholm Concert Hall. The Nobel Medal was donated by the Steinbeck family to the Stanford University Library in 2005.

Question: Was John Steinbeck awarded the Nobel Prize for one particular novel or for several?

Answer: John Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature “for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception”.

Question: What were John Steinbeck’s major works?

Answer: Arguably Steinbeck’s best-known works are East of Eden, Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath. East of Eden follows the intertwined lives and times of two families, the Trasks and the Hamiltons, from the American Civil War to World War I. Of Mice and Men is a story about two travelling ranch workers, George and Lennie, who are trying to earn enough money to buy their own farm. The Grapes of Wrath, considered by many to be his finest work, tells the story of Oklahoma tenant farmers who, unable to earn a living from the land, move to California where they became migratory workers.

Question: When did John Steinbeck die and where is he buried?

Answer: John Steinbeck died of heart failure on 20 December 1968, in New York, N.Y, United States. On 4 March 1969, his ashes were buried in the Garden of Memories cemetery in Salinas in the Hamilton Family plot.

First published 22 February 2008

To cite this section
MLA style: John Steinbeck – Questions and answers. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2023. Sun. 1 Oct 2023. <>

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