Of Mice and Men Background

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The Background of ‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck: America in the 1930s
The author – John Ernst Steinbeck * Born February 27th 1902 – Salinas, California - Irish/Scottish/English Decent * Third child of John Ernst Steinbeck (German decent) and Olive Hamilton Steinbeck (Irish decent). * Father was originally a moderately successful businessman – managed a flour mill and owned an animal feed and grain stores, which went bankrupt and then later became the Treasure of Monterey Country. * Mother was a schoolteacher before she married – passed on love of reading to her son, who could read fluently by the age of 5. * Wished to become a writer from the age of 14. * Wrote short stories in high school – sent some off to a local magazine under a pseudonym. * He discovered the harshness of migrant life and the darker side of humanity whilst he spent his summers as a teenager working on ranches with migrant workers – this material was used in ‘Of Mice and Men’ * Spent 5 years at Standford University, but left without a degree. * Travelled to New York City – did odd jobs whilst trying to write: for example a construction worker and a newspaper reporter. * First novel, ‘Cup of Gold’ published in 1929, followed by many other novels. * In 1934, had to care for elderly parents: wrote by mother’s bedside. * Political controversy about 1936 novel ‘In Dubious Battle’. Some politicians claimed that the strike leaders were too ruthless, whilst others said that Steinbeck had too much sympathy towards communists – this argument made Steinbeck famous. * Started writing Of Mice and Men in early 1936, however the original manuscript was torn to shreds by the family puppy. * Had to rewrite 2 months of work from memory. * Admitted to other that he doubted it would make any money. * ‘Of Mice and Men’ was published in 1937

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