John Ernst Steinbeck (February 27, 1902 - December 20, 1968) was one of the most famous American novelists of the 20th century.
He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1962, though his popularity with readers never was matched by that of the literary critics.
He was born in Salinas, California, which acted as a setting for many of his stories. After an unsuccessful attempt to write in a mythological vein (Cup of Gold), he found his stride in writing California novels and Dust Bowl fiction, set among common people in the Great Depression. He had a wide range of interests: marine biology, jazz, politics, philosophy, history, and myth. For many he was the voice of Great Depression.
Steinbeck wrote in the naturalist/realist style, often about poor, working-class people. His most famous work, The Grapes Of Wrath, tells the story of the Joads, a poor family from Oklahoma and their journey to and subsequent struggles in California.
East Of Eden is Steinbeck's most ambitious work, in which he turns his attention from social injustice to human psychology, in a Salinas Valley saga loosely patterned on the Garden of Eden story.
Steinbeck received the Nobel prize for literature in 1962 for his "realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception." He died in New York.