Scope and Content
Title: Wells Fargo Steinbeck Collection,
Date (inclusive): 1892-1981
Collection number: Special Collections M1063
Edgar R. Dethlefsen, Caroline R. Finney, and Mary E. Rodgers
ca. 5 linear ft., 111 volumes
Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
The library does not have full title to the portion of the collection comprising Steinbeck's letters. This material cannot
be cited without first obtaining permission at the address below. Copyright administered by: Mc Intosh and Otis, Inc. 475
Fifth Ave. New York, NY 10017 Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the
documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the
Dept. of Special Collections.
Purchased from Edgar R. Dethlefsen, Caroline R. Finney, and Mary E. Rodgers, Apr. 30, 1999. Purchased with a lead gift of
the Wells Fargo Foundation, San Francisco.
[Identification of item] Wells Fargo Steinbeck Collection, M1063, Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries,
John Ernst Steinbeck was born in Salinas, CA, on February 27, 1902, to John Ernst and Olive Hamilton Steinbeck, the third
of four children. After being graduated from Salinas High School, he attended Stanford University intermittently between 1920
and 1925. After leaving Stanford, Steinbeck moved to New York City, where he worked as a construction laborer and wrote briefly
for the Hearst-owned The American newspaper. In 1926, Steinbeck returned to California. He lived and worked during the late
1920s in the Lake Tahoe area, where he wrote his first novel, Cup of Gold, published by Robert M. McBride, New York, in 1929.
The 1930s were a period of extraordinary productivity for John Steinbeck. He wrote eight novels during the decade, beginning
in 1932 with The Pastures of Heaven (New York : Brewer, Warren & Putnam), through his first commercial and critical success
with Tortilla Flat (New York: Covici-Friede, 1935), and concluding in 1939 with The Grapes of Wrath, for which he won the
Pulitzer Prize in 1940.
Like the 1930s, the 1940s were also a period of great productivity. Steinbeck wrote six books and wrote the screenplays for
several earlier works, including the production of The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, and Viva Zapata!
Steinbeck continued to be productive throughout his life, producing 26 books and countless stories, dramatic adaptations,
editorials and pieces of journalism. Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature on December 10, 1962. He died of
a heart attack in New York City on December 20, 1968. He was 66 years old.
Derived extensively from Meyer, Michael J. THE HAYASHI STEINBECK BIBLIOGRAPHY, 1982-1996 (Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press, 1998)
|1902 Feb. 27
||Born John Ernst Steinbeck, Salinas, CA, son of John Ernst and Olive Hamilton Steinbeck
||Graduates Salinas High School, Salinas, CA
||Begins attendance at Stanford University
||Leaves Stanford without a degree
||Moves to New York City where he works as a laborer on the construction of Madison Square Garden and writes as a reporter for
the Hearst-owned New York American.
||Lives in Lake Tahoe as an estate caretaker. Writes first novel, Cup of Gold.
||Cup of Gold published by Robert M. McBride, New York.
||Marries Carol Henning. Moves to Pacific Grove, writes To a God Unknown.
||Publishes The Pastures of Heaven (Brewer, Warren, and Putnam, New York).
||To a God Unknown published by Robert O. Ballou, New York.
||Olive Hamilton Steinbeck dies.
||John Ernst Steinbeck dies. Tortilla Flat published by Pascal Covici of Covici-Friede, New York.
||Publishes In Dubious Battle (Covici-Friede, New York). Moves to Los Gatos, CA. Completes manuscript of Of Mice and Men.
||Of Mice and Men published by Covici-Friede, New York. Selected as Book-of-the-Month Club Selection. Dramatic adaptation starring
Wallace Ford and Broderick Crawford appears on Broadway for 207 performances. The Red Pony published in a limited-edition
by Covici-Friede, New York.
||Tortilla Flat on Broadway. Wins New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Of Mice and Men. The Long Valley published by Viking
Press, New York. "Their Blood is Strong" is published by Simon J. Lubin Society of California, San Francisco.
||Publishes The Grapes of Wrath (Viking Press, New York).
||Wins Pulitzer Prize for The Grapes of Wrath. Writes script for The Forgotten Village.
||Separates from Carol. Writes screenplay for The Red Pony. Moves to New York with Gwyn Conger. Publishes Sea of Cortez (Viking
Press, New York).
||The Moon is Down is published by Viking. Appointed Special Consultant to the Secretary of War. Writes Bombs Away : the story
of a Bomber Team (Viking, New York). Moves from New York to Sherman Oaks, California.
||Divorce from Carol finalized March 18. Marries Gwyn Conger on March 29. Becomes war correspondent for New York Herald Tribune.
Travels to England, North Africa, Sicily. Film of The Moon is Down is released.
||Nominated for Academy Award for Best Original Story for Lifeboat, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Finishes writing Cannery Row.
Son Thom is born August 2.
||Cannery Row published by Viking Press, New York. Completes "The Pearl." Nominated for Academy Award for Best Original Story
for A Medal for Benny, directed by Irving Pichel. Moves back to New York.
||Son John Steinbeck, IV born June 12. Receives King Haakon Liberty Cross in Norway for The Moon is Down.
||The Wayward Bus published by Viking Press. Travels to France, Sweden, and Soviet Union. The Pearl published (Viking Press,
||A Russian Journal (Viking Press, New York) published. Divorces Gwyn. Elected to American Academy of Arts and Letters.
||The Red Pony, directed by Lewis Milestone, released.
||Burning Bright opens on Broadway. Marries Elaine Scott on
||The Log from the Sea of Cortez published.
||Viva Zapata!, directed by Elia Kazan, released. Travels to Europe and North Africa writing for Colliers. East of Eden published
(Viking Press, New York).
||Academy Award nomination for Best Story and Best Screenplay for Viva Zapata!
||Sweet Thursday published. Writes weekly articles for Le Figaro.
||East of Eden, directed by Elia Kazan, released. Pipe Dream opens on Broadway.
||The Short Reign of Pippin IV published (Viking Press, New York).
||Once There Was a War published (Viking Press, New York).
||The Winter of Our Discontent published (Viking Press, New York). Travels to Italy for extended stay.
||Steinbeck wins Nobel Prize for Literature "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour
and keen social perception."
||Travels to Central and Eastern Europe at the suggestion of President Kennedy.
||Begins regular column for Newsday.
||Travels to Southeast Asia reporting on the Vietnam War for Newsday.
|1968 Dec. 20
||John Steinbeck dies of cardio-respiratory failure at his home in New York City. He was 66. Survived by his third wife, Elaine
Scott Steinbeck and his two sons, Thom Steinbeck and John Steinbeck IV. He is buried at the Garden of Memories Cemetery in
Scope and Content
The Wells Fargo Steinbeck Collection, originally the Rodgers Collection of John Steinbeck, contains more that 770 letters,
photographs, clippings, unpublished short pieces, and ephemera from John Steinbeck and the Steinbeck and Hamilton families,
dating from the 1890s to the early 1980s. The bulk of the collection consists of John Steinbeck's letters to his family, beginning
in the 1923 with his letters home from Stanford University. The letters from the globetrotting Steinbeck continue throughout
his life, addressed primarily to his sister Esther Steinbeck Rodgers of Watsonville, California, until just before his death
from a heart attack on December 20, 1968.
The collection also contains a cache of letters from Steinbeck to Esther Rodgers's daughter Carolee, as well as letters from
other members of the Steinbeck and Hamilton families, including letters from John Ernst Steinbeck to Esther, letters from
Almira Ann Steinbeck (Steinbeck's paternal grandmother), letters from Elaine Steinbeck to Esther, letters from Steinbeck's
godfather D.P. Trask, and Steinbeck's biographer Nelson Valjean. Together, these letters provide the researcher a rich portrait
of Steinbeck's family, his early years and his adult life, which so influenced his writing.
The photograph albums contain more than 200 pictures. They are an extraordinary collection of images of the Steinbeck and
Hamilton families, providing a rare glimpse into the private life of John Steinbeck from his childhood until his death.
Finally, the Wells Fargo Steinbeck Collection consists of more than 100 copies of Steinbeck's books and works about Steinbeck,
virtually all of which are first editions, signed by the author, or inscription copies to his sister Esther Rodgers
The Wells Fargo Steinbeck Collection is organized into 12 series following the organization of the papers by the Rodgers family
and especially the careful work done by Ann Dethlefsen, Esther Rodgers' granddaughter. Very few changes have been made to
the Dethlefsen organization except when necessitated for the sake of housing or when greater clarification of dates could
be added. These twelve series are: