A Complete List of John Steinbeck's Works

Chronological List of the 20th Century American Writer's Books

Picture of John Steinbeck

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John Steinbeck was a world-renowned novelist, playwright, essayist, and short-story writer. He was born in Salinas, California, in 1902. Growing up in a rural town he spent his summers working on local ranches, which exposed him to the harsh lives of migrant workers. These experiences would provide much of the inspiration for some of his most celebrated works such as "Of Mice and Men." He wrote so often and so realistically of the area where he grew up—Monterey, California—that it is now sometimes referred to as "Steinbeck Country."

Best Known Books

Steinbeck published thirty books, including several that were well-respected by both critics and the public. Among those are "Tortilla Flat," about a charming group of layabouts who live near Monterey; "The Grapes of Wrath" about a farming family fleeting the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma for California during the Great Depression; and "Of Mice and Men," a story of two itinerant ranch hands struggling to survive.

Many of Steinbeck's books centered around the trials and tribulations of Americans living in the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression. He also took inspiration for his writing from his time spent as a reporter. His work has stirred controversy and offered a unique view into what life was like for struggling low-income Americans. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1939 novel, "The Grapes of Wrath."

John Steinbeck's List of Works

  • 1927: "Cup of Gold"—A historical fiction based loosely on the life of the 17th-century pirate Henry Morgan.
  • 1932: "The Pastures of Heaven"—Twelve interconnected stories about the people in a valley in Monterrey California, a place which would become a central theme in many of his later works.
  • 1933: "To a God Unknown"—Four brothers who move to California to work a ranch and struggle when a drought takes away all they have grown.
  • 1935: "Tortilla Flat"—A small band of Hispanic paisanos in Monterrey enjoy life in Monterrey; Steinbeck's first big success. 
  • 1936: "In Dubious Battle"—A labor activist struggles to organize fruit workers in California.
  • 1937: "Of Mice and Men"—Two displaced migrants seek work in California during the Great Depression; often a target of censorship for its vulgarity and offensive language.
  • 1937: "The Red Pony Stories"—Episodic novel appearing in magazines between 1933 and 1936, first published together in 1937, about a boy and his life on a California ranch.
  • 1938: "The Long Valley"—A collection of 12 short stories, written over several years and set in the Salinas Valley of California. Includes the first Red Pony story. 
  • 1939: "The Grapes of Wrath"—A poor migrant family from Oklahoma and their struggles to find a place in California; Steinbeck's best-known novel and winner of the Pulitzer and other literary prizes.  
  • 1941: "The Forgotten Village"—A documentary film written by Steinbeck and narrated by Burgess Meredith, about a Mexican village grappling with modernization. 
  • 1942: "The Moon Is Down"—A story of a small coastal town in northern Europe which is overrun by an unnamed army (thought to be a fictionalization of the occupation of Norway by the Nazis in World War II). 
  • 1942: "Bombs Away: The Story of a Bomber Team"—A nonfiction account of Steinbeck's experiences with several World War II American Army Air bomber crews. 
  • 1945—"Cannery Row"—The inhabitants of a small town in California decide to throw a party for their friend Doc, and disaster follows. 
  • 1947: "The Wayward Bus"—A group of people at a crossroads bus stop in California meet and interact.
  • 1947: "The Pearl"—In La Paz, Mexico, an indigenous oyster fisherman finds an immense pearl and it brings ill effects to his family. 
  • 1948: "A Russian Journal"—A report from Steinbeck on his travels through the Soviet Union during Joseph Stalin's rule. 
  • 1950: "Burning Bright"—A morality story meant to be produced as a play, during which an aging man goes to great lengths to have a child.
  • 1951: "The Log from the Sea of Cortez"—Steinbeck's personal log of a six-week expedition in the Gulf of California he made with marine biologist Ed Ricketts. Written in 1941, published in 1951.
  • 1952: "East of Eden"—A novel about two Salinas valley families in the first two decades of the 20th century, based on the story of Steinbeck's own ancestors. 
  • 1954: "Sweet Thursday"—A revisit of the people in "Cannery Row," taking place after the main character Doc returns at the end of World War II.
  • 1957: "The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication"—A political satire, exploring what might happen if an ordinary fellow was selected to be the King of France. 
  • 1958: "Once There Was A War"—A collection of articles written for the New York Herald Tribune while Steinbeck was a foreign correspondent during World War II.
  • 1961: "The Winter of Our Discontent"—The struggles of a Long Island man whose family has fallen from an aristocratic level to a middle-class existence. Steinbeck's last novel. 
  • 1962: "Travels with Charley: In Search of America"—A travelogue of Steinbeck's road trip across the U.S. in a hand-built camper with his dog Charley. 
  • 1966: "America and Americans"—A collection of articles from Steinbeck's career as a journalist. 
  • 1969: "Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters"—A series of letters written by Steinbeck to his editor during the writing of East of Eden. Published posthumously (Steinbeck died in 1968). 
  • 1975: "Viva Zapata!"—A screenplay written by Steinbeck was used to produce this biographical film about the Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata. 
  • 1976: "The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights"—An adaptation of the legend of King Arthur, started in 1956, and unfinished at his death. 
  • 1989: "Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath"—Edited and annotated version of Steinbeck's personal journal written while he was working on "The Grapes of Wrath."

    Nobel Prize for Literature 

    In 1962 John Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, an award he did not think he deserved. The author was not alone in that thought, many literary critics were also unhappy with the decision. In 2012, the Nobel Prize revealed that the author had been a "compromise choice," chosen from a "bad lot" where none of the authors stood out. Many believed that Steinbeck's best work was already behind him by the time he was chosen for the award. Others believe that the criticism of his win was politically motivated. The author's anti-capitalist slant to his stories made him unpopular with many. In spite of this, he is still considered one of America's greatest writers. His books are regularly taught in American and British schools, sometimes as a bridge towards more complex literature.