Wednesday, May 6, 2015



Salinas, California (JFK+50) Seventy-five years ago today, May 6, 1940, American author John Steinbeck, a native of Salinas, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his novel, Grapes of Wrath.

The novel is about a family of sharecroppers who, having been victims of the Oklahoma Dust Bowl, leave everything behind to go to California to start a new life.

Despite the award, Newsweek magazine deemed Steinbeck's work...

"a mess of silly propaganda, superficial observation, careless infidelity to the proper use of idiom (and) tasteless pornographical and scatological talk."

Although controversial, Grapes of Wrath "became the bestselling book in America in 1939." Within a year, over 400,000 copies disappeared from book stores across the land.

20th Century-Fox purchased motion picture rights and assigned accomplished director John Ford for the project.  His cast included Henry Fonda in the lead role as Tom Joad.  Ford's production won him an Oscar for Best Director and actress Jane Darwell as Ma Joad won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

In 1962,John Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature.  In his acceptance speech, he said...

"The writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit for gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion and love."


"Did John Steinbeck deserve a Nobel Prize for Grapes of Wrath?," by Kristin Masters, Books Tell You Why, February 27, 2014,

John Steinbeck and Son Visit LBJ
May 16, 1966
 LBJ Library Photo