40 pages 1 hour read

John Steinbeck

Travels With Charley

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 1962

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Key Figures

John Steinbeck

Steinbeck, the author and primary character in Travels With Charley, had a long career as a fiction writer, producing literary classics such as East of Eden, Tortilla Flat, and Of Mice and Men. He was born in northern California in 1902 and raised on a rural farm. After failing to graduate from Stanford, he spent much of his young life working odd jobs. He was particularly inspired by his time working in agriculture, when he became familiar with the hard life of migrant farmers, an experience that informed much of his writing. He always found time for writing in between other sources of work and published his first novel in 1929. Over the next decade, he quickly gained notoriety as an author, winning the both the 1939 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for The Grapes of Wrath. He won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1962, the year that Travels With Charley was published. Steinbeck built his career on describing the lives of average Americans, but as he became more famous, he realized that he’d lost touch with his subject matter. His elite lifestyle allowed him to travel worldwide, but he rarely got the opportunity to communicate with people outside high level academic and literary circles.