53 pages 1 hour read

John Steinbeck

The Chrysanthemums

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1937

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Authorial Context: John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California, in 1902. He intermittently attended Stanford University from 1920 to 1926, though he never received his degree. He then worked odd jobs to support his writing. After publishing three novels, he finally earned recognition with Tortilla Flat in 1935. Soon after, he received significant attention for his novel Of Mice and Men (1937) and The Grapes of Wrath (1939), for which he won a Pulitzer Prize. He served as a war correspondent during the Second World War and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

Steinbeck’s notable works focus on the social issues of his day and are often aggressively political. Many of his works highlight the plight of manual laborers and migrant workers, exposing corrupt and exploitative systems. Steinbeck spent a great deal of time with union leaders, Marxists, communists, and radicals of all kinds, which influenced his writings. Many accused him of being too left-leaning, others said he was not left-leaning enough, and critics complained that his work perpetuated stereotypes. However, he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1948, and President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964.