John Steinbeck Timeline
In doing research for Steinbeck Citizen Spy, it became quickly apparent that comparing Steinbeck’s travels and associations with government documentation might help me decipher Steinbeck’s dual life. I did not know what tidbits would be pertinent as I came across events in John’s life, so I compiled as detailed a timeline as possible. The majority of entries have a corresponding reference to aid in returning to material that seemed promising. References to each event can be found in the Timeline Appendix of Steinbeck Citizen Spy.
The main source for referenced events in this timeline is Steinbeck: A Life in Letters. One has to assume that Steinbeck’s own record is the most accurate available. Where an exact date for an event is in question, I have attempted to note the estimation and why the estimation was made. I’ve also taken the liberty of including major world events into this timeline to place Steinbeck’s life in proper historical context.
If you are trying to find a specific event or work of Steinbeck's in this timeline, it may be of use to use the find function of your internet browser. To access this function, hold the control and "f" buttons down on your keyboard and then type your search term.
February 27: John Ernst Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California. He was the third of four children and the only son of John Ernst II and Olive Hamilton Steinbeck.
Steinbeck attends Salinas High School.
Summer: Steinbeck works at the Post Ranch and tracks the Big Sur Bear.
John Steinbeck attends classes at Stanford University, leaving without a degree. During these years, Steinbeck drops out for several months, and is employed intermittently as a sales clerk, farm laborer, ranch hand, and factory worker.
Steinbeck joins the Order of DeMolay.
November: Steinbeck travels by freighter from Los Angeles to New York City.
December: Steinbeck arrives in New York and gets a job on a Madison Square Garden construction crew. The job lasts six weeks and he quits after a nearby worker is killed falling off a scaffolding.
January: Steinbeck gets a job as a reporter for the New York American.
Summer to Winter: Lives in Lake Tahoe, California, and works as a caretaker for a summer home.
January 18: Steinbeck applies for admission to Salinas Masonic Lodge #204.
May 24: Steinbeck achieves the degree of Master Mason at Salinas Lodge.
August: John’s first novel, Cup of Gold,is published.
October 29: Wall Street’s “Black Tuesday” crash signals the beginning of the Great Depression.
January 14: John marries Carol Henning.
October: Steinbeck meets Edward F. Ricketts.
Mythologist and author Joseph Campbell comes to Monterey and meets Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts.
March: Carol gets a job working at Ed Ricketts’ lab.
June: Carol Steinbeck and Joseph Campbell have an affair that is broken off by mutual consent. Campbell and Ed Ricketts also go to Alaska for a specimen-hunting trip.
October: The Pastures of Heaven is published.
February 11: Steinbeck sends To a God Unknown to his literary agents.
September: To a God Unknown is published.
February 19: Steinbeck’s mother dies.
March: Steinbeck accompanies Ed Ricketts on a specimen-hunting trip at Laguna Beach.
May: Steinbeck starts gathering information on farm labor unions in the Salinas area.
February 5: Steinbeck completes the manuscript for In Dubious Battle.
May: Steinbeck’s father dies.
May 28: Tortilla Flat is published.
September: John and Carol travel to Mexico for a vacation and to escape the media attention Tortilla Flat has generated.
October: Still in Mexico, John receives a telegram that Paramount Pictures has purchased the film rights to Tortilla Flat.
January (Early): John and Carol travel from Mexico to New York to sign the Tortilla Flat film deal and then return to California.
April (Mid): Steinbeck begins work on Of Mice and Men (originally titled Something That Happened).
May 11: Steinbeck purchases land in Los Gatos, California.
June 11: The California Literature Gold Medal is awarded to Steinbeck for Tortilla Flat.
October: In Dubious Battle is published.
October 5–12: John’s series of articles about the migrant worker problem are published in the San Francisco News.
November 13: John attends the Western Writer’s Conference in San Francisco.
November 25: Ed Rickett’s lab in Cannery Row burns to the ground.
December: Saint Katy the Virgin is published.
February 6: Of Mice and Men is published.
March 23: Steinbeck and Carol set sail for Philadelphia from California.
April 15: Steinbeck and Carol arrive in Philadelphia and later take a train to New York. There they attend a dinner honoring Thomas Mann.
May (Late): The Steinbecks sail from New York to Sweden.
July: John and Carol travel from Sweden to Finland and then to the Russia.
August 13: The Steinbecks arrive in New York from Sandviken on the Toledo.
September: The Red Pony is published.
October: “The Chrysanthemums” is published in Harper’s Magazine.
October (Mid): Steinbeck visits the migrant worker camps in Los Gatos.
November 23: The stage version of Of Mice and Men opens in New York’s Music Box Theater. The play runs through May 1938 (207 performances).
January 12: The stage version of Tortilla Flat opens at New York’s Henry Miller’s Theatre for five performances.
February (Mid): Steinbeck spends ten days at migrant worker camps in Visalia with Tom Collins.
April: “Their Blood Is Strong,” a nonfiction account of the migrant labor problem in California, is published by the Simon J. Lubin Society.
April 15: “Starvation under the Orange Trees,” is published by the Monterey Trader.
May: Steinbeck receives the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for the play Of Mice and Men.
June 14: Steinbeck telegrams Eleanor Roosevelt that the Congressional Appropriations Committee failed to provide funds for the US Film Service. The lack of funding halted the efforts of Pare Lorentz and other filmmakers.
September: The short-story collection, The Long Valley,is published. This edition includes the story “The Red Pony.”
October (Late): Steinbeck finishes The Grapes of Wrath manuscript.
October 25: American Legion investigator Harper Knowles testifies before the Dies Commission that Steinbeck has Communist ties.
November 8: John’s wife Carol registers with the Communist Party in Santa Clara County.
February 2: Steinbeck telegrams the Committee to Aid Agricultural Organizations to “portest (sic) any curtailment of the FSA Camp and relief program.”
February 9: Steinbeck sends a telegram to President Roosevelt urging the passage of a bill to extend the LaFollette Civil Liberties Committee.
April 5: Steinbeck’s editor,Pat Covici, sends a copy of The Grapes of Wrath to President Roosevelt.
April 14: The Grapes of Wrath is published.
Summer: John and Carol tour the Pacific Northwest.
September (Mid): John and Carol travel to Chicago to visit Joe Hamilton, Pare Lorentz, and Paul de Kruief.
December (Late): John urges Carol to get an abortion after finding out she is pregnant. Carol does and develops an infection that leads to a hysterectomy.
December 30: Film Of Mice and Men is released in the United States.
January 24: Film version of The Grapes of Wrath premiers in New York.
March 11–April 20: John conducts a marine expedition in the Gulf of California with Ed Ricketts.
March 15: Film version of The Grapes of Wrath opens in the United States.
March 22: Steinbeck is in La Paz, Mexico.
March 27: Steinbeck is in Loreto, Mexico.
April 5: Steinbeck is in Guaymas, Mexico.
April 22: Steinbeck returns home to Los Gatos. (Date estimated by Steinbeck in an April 6th letter to the staff at McIntosh-Otis).
May: The Grapes of Wrath receives the National Book Award.
May 6:The Grapes of Wrath wins the Pulitzer Prize.
May 22: John and Carol attend a party in Hollywood thrown by Lewis Milestone. Known to have attended the party are Gwyndolyn Conger, Charlie Chaplin, Vladimir Horowitz, and Max Wagner.
May 23: Steinbeck travels to Mexico City to work on the film script for The Forgotten Village.
May 24: An assassination attempt is made on Leon Trotsky in Mexico City.
June (Early): Ed Ricketts joins Steinbeck in Mexico City.
June 14 or June 22: Steinbeck sends a report of his findings in Mexico to his uncle Joe Hamilton. (See chapter 4 for explanation of date discrepancy.)
June 22: Steinbeck travels to Washington, D.C.
June 24: Steinbeck’s letter about an Axis threat in Mexico is received by President Roosevelt.
Also the same day, an FBI memo was issued to create the FBI’s Special Intelligence Service to operate in Latin America.
June 26: Steinbeck meets with FDR and presents a plan of print and radio propaganda in Latin America.
July–August: John takes sporadic flying lessons at the Palo Alto airport.
August 13: John writes to FDR about flooding Germany with counterfeit Deutsche Marks in an effort to collapse the Nazis’ economy.
August 16: The Office for Coordination of Commercial and Cultural Relations between the American Republics was started by FDR with Nelson Rockefeller at the helm. The Agency would formally be chartered and renamed as the Office of Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs in July 1941.
September 12: Steinbeck meets once again with FDR to discuss Steinbeck’s plan to sabotage the German economy.
September 14–27: John leaves Washington for New York and returns to California on the 27th.
October (Mid): Steinbeck returns to Mexico to continue work on The Forgotten Village.
November (Third week): John returns to the USA and meets Gwyn Conger in Hollywood.
December 13: Steinbeck writes a letter to the Mexican Ambassador, Josephus Daniels, giving Daniels praise. The letter is forwarded to Archibald MacLeish of the Library of Congress and then to FDR.
January 1: Steinbeck and Carol have the flu at the Los Gatos ranch house.
February 7: Carol leaves for a vacation to Hawaii.
March: Mavis McIntosh visits Steinbeck in California.
April (Late): Steinbeck separates from Carol.
May: The book version of The Forgotten Village is published.
July 11: Colonel William Donovan’s “Memorandum of Establishment of Service of Strategic Information” results in President Roosevelt establishing the Office of the Coordinator of Information. Donovan is assigned as the “Coordinator of Information” of the intelligence agency.
July 30: Office of Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs is officially sanctioned by Executive Order 8840.
September (Early): Steinbeck works on the script for the film version of The Red Pony in California.
September (Late): John moves to New York City with singer Gwyn Conger.
October 7–8: Steinbeck goes to Washington, D.C., to attend a conference with the Foreign Information Service (FIS), after which, John begins writing material for the FIS.
November: Steinbeck begins work on The Moon Is Down.
November (Mid): John rents a two-bedroom apartment in a residential hotel in Manhattan.
November 18: The Forgotten Village documentary is released in the USA.
November 25: Steinbeck mentions in a letter to Toby Street that he “may have to go to Washington to do some work in about a week.” (A citation with this letter in Steinbeck: A Life in Letters mentions John was already writing broadcasts for what would become the War Information Office.)
December 5:Sea of Cortez, written with Edward Ricketts, is published.
December 7: Pearl Harbor is bombed by a surprise Japanese raid. The United States responds by declaring war on the Japanese on December 8, 1941. A war declaration is issued for Germany on December 11, 1941.
December (Mid): John submits the manuscript for The Moon Is Down to Viking Press for publication.
December 15: Steinbeck makes suggestions to COI William Donovan about cooperation with Japanese-American organizations.
December (Late): John and Gwyn spend Christmas and New Year’s holidays in New Orleans at Roark Bradford.
January 7: John returns to New York to work on a stage version of The Moon Is Down.
February 24: Voice of America (VOA) conducts its first broadcast.
February 27: Steinbeck’s 40th birthday.
March: John is sued for divorce by first wife Carol.
March 6: The Moon Is Down is published.
April (Early): John is offered a full-time position at the OWI.
April 7: The stage version of The Moon Is Down opens in New York’s Martin Beck Theater. The production runs through May 6, 1942 (71 performances).
May (Mid): Steinbeck is offered a temporary assignment to write two books for the Army Air Corps.
May 5: Steinbeck writes the Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, about using Japanese oceanographic studies for intelligence purposes. Two months later, a Naval Intelligence Officer visits Ed Ricketts for a follow-up to Steinbeck’s suggestion.
May 11: Attorney General Francis Biddle forwards Steinbeck’s “ask Edgar’s boys to stop stepping on my heels” letter to J. Edgar Hoover.
May 12: Steinbeck applies for a pistol permit in Rockland County, NY.
May 21: Film version of Tortilla Flat released.
Also the FBI sends a letter to Attorney General Francis Biddle reporting that the FBI has never investigated Steinbeck.
May (Late)–June: Steinbeck travels with photographer John Swope on board Army Air Corps flights gathering material for Bombs Away.
June 13: The Office of Strategic Services is officially established along with the Office of War Information.
July 23: Steinbeck writes Toby Street that his official job title is now Special Consultant to the Secretary of War attached to the Army Air Corps and is also performing the job duties as the foreign news editor for the Office of War Information. John is also convinced that he will receive an Army commission as an intelligence officer “in the fall.”
September: John and Gwyn return to California ostensibly so John can work on a film for the Army Air Corps.
October 27: Attorney General’s office calls the FBI with a request to see the FBI’s file on Steinbeck.
November 27:Bombs Away: The Story of a Bomber Team is published.
December: John begins a script for an Army Air Corps training film.
December 3: An unknown person reports to the FBI that Steinbeck is at Japanese internment camps dressed in an Army uniform agitating internees.
January: Steinbeck writes the screenplay for Hitchcock’s movie Lifeboat.
January (Mid): John and Gywn move into a New York City apartment.
February 23: US Army Counter Intelligence does a background check on Steinbeck with the Office of Naval Intelligence, San Francisco Police Department, San Francisco FBI Field Office, and the American Legion Radical Research Bureau.
March: John applies to be a war correspondent with The New York Herald Tribune.
March 14: Film of The Moon Is Down released in the United States.
March 27: Steinbeck flies to New Orleans to get married to Gwyn.
March 29: Steinbeck marries Gwyn Conger in New Orleans at the home of Lyle Saxon.
April 5: The War Department approves John’s credentials as a war correspondent and Steinbeck notifies Toby Street by telegram.
May: Steinbeck spends the month preparing to go overseas.
May (Late) to June (Mid): US Army Counter Intelligence agents conduct acquaintance check on Steinbeck in California.
June 3: John leaves New York aboard a troop ship for London.
June 8: Steinbeck arrives in London.
July 25–31: Steinbeck spends four days with staff officers from General Lee’s SOS.
July 26: General Weaver is briefed that Steinbeck has “started his movie.”
July 27: Army Counter Intelligence Chief Boris Pash generates a report consolidating the military’s investigation into Steinbeck’s character. Pash does not agree with the reporting officer’s recommendation that Steinbeck is loyal and declines John’s commission in the US Army.
August 13: John writes Gwyn that he is in Northern Africa (probably Algiers).
August 19: Steinbeck writes to Gwyn that he has been traveling throughout the countryside with a cameraman and an enlisted man “taking some pictures.”
August 25: In another letter to Gywn, Steinbeck says that he is with a group of naval officers at a Gregorian monastery that is an ad hoc hospital. All indications in the letter are that Steinbeck is still in Algeria.
September 8–9: Steinbeck participates in the capture of Ventotene with Douglas Fairbanks Jr.’s unit of Beach Jumpers and OSS operatives.
September 9: The Allies begin Operation Avalanche to take Salerno.
September 10: John accompanies Beach Jumper Lt. John Kramer on a diversion mission in the Gulf of Gaeta.
September 12: Still attached to the Beach Jumpers, Steinbeck participates in the liberation of the Isle of Capri.
September 13 or 14: John reaches the Italian mainland to cover Salerno invasion.
September 14: Steinbeck mentions in a letter to Gwyn (dated September 23, 1943) that he had a particularly “rough night” referring to Salerno.
September 20: Steinbeck is aboard a transport ship after Salerno.
September 22: Steinbeck reaches an undisclosed military base in the Mediterranean.
September 24: Steinbeck returns to London.
October 15: Steinbeck returns to the USA from London.
November: Steinbeck begins work on Cannery Row.
January (Mid): Steinbeck travels to Mexico with Gwyn.
January 10: Steinbeck has seen an advance copy of Lifeboat and writes to 20th Century Fox. John is disappointed with script changes that depict the African-American seaman as “half-comic and half-pathetic.”
January 28: Lifeboat opens to film audiences in the United States.
February 21: The New York Times reports that Steinbeck is an owner/contributor of Associated Magazine Contributors INC.
February 22: An unknown associate of Jacob Epstein enters the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City.
February 23: Steinbeck attends a reception at the Soviet Embassy in Mexico City.
March 15: Steinbeck returns to the United States via Brownsville, TX.
March 22: The United States Ambassador to Mexico sends a secret memo to J. Edgar Hoover related to Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway in affairs in Mexico.
Spring: Steinbeck meets Ernest Hemingway for the first, and only time, at Tim Costello’s bar in Manhattan.
April 8: The San Antonio FBI field office sends a report to J. Edgar Hoover regarding Steinbeck’s entry into Mexico on March 15th.
April 12: Steinbeck writes to Carlton Sheffield about the injuries he sustained during the Salerno invasion. John also speaks of his feelings about being blacklisted from the Army.
June 24 and 29: Steinbeck’s suggestions for a statement and a platform for the Democratic National Convention are forwarded to President Roosevelt on these dates.
July 7: Steinbeck attends author Lion Feuchtwanger’s 60th birthday party in New York. Steinbeck has planned the event with publisher B. W. Huebsch and screenwriter/director Berthold Vierte.
August 2: Steinbeck’s first son, Thomas, is born.
August 8: President Roosevelt sends a letter to John congratulating him on the birth of Thom.
October (Early): Steinbeck moves back to California with his family.
November 23: A film version of The Moon Is Down opens in Sweden.
October 15–January (late) 1945: Steinbeck works on The Pearl.
January 2: Cannery Row is published.
February 9: John and Gwyn travel to Mexico City to assist in the filming of The Pearl.
February 4–11: President Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, and Winston Churchill attend the Yalta conference to discuss the world’s reorganization after the end of World War II.
April 5: Steinbeck and Jack Wagner take a train from Los Angeles to Mexico City.
April 12: President Roosevelt dies from a stroke.
April 16: A Medal for Benny is released in the USA.
May 3–July 12: Steinbeck is in Cuernavaca, Mexico. (Dates of travel are unknown, but letters denote Steinbeck was here during this period.)
May 8: Germany surrenders, effectively ending hostilities in Europe.
August: John works on the screenplay for The Pearl.
August 14: Japan surrenders to Allied forces, effectively ending the Second World War.
September 5: Igor Gouzenko, a clerk working in the Soviet embassy in Ottawa, defects and provides proof to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police of a Soviet spy ring operating in Canada and other western countries.
October 1: The OSS is officially dissolved by Executive Order 9162.
November: John travels from New York to Mexico for filming of The Pearl.
December 15: Steinbeck returns to New York from Mexico.
January–May: Steinbeck works on The Wayward Bus.
March 5: Winston Churchill gives the “Iron Curtain” speech at Westminster College.
March 12: President Truman announces the “Truman Doctrine” and proposes giving aid to Greece and Turkey to fend off Communist aggression.
June 12: Steinbeck’s second son, John IV, is born.
July: Steinbeck returns to Mexico for post-production work on The Pearl.
October 18: John and Gwyn sail for Sweden aboard the SS Drottningholm.
October 30: Steinbeck attends a legation luncheon in Copenhagen.
November 15: John receives the Norwegian King Haakon Liberty Cross.
November 18–19: John and Gwyn fly from Stockholm to New York on Swedish Airlines flight 1039.
January 18: An undisclosed source in San Simeon, California, writes J. Edgar Hoover to tell him of Steinbeck’s Communist tendencies. The source possibly works with or is related to the Hearst Media Empire.
February: The Wayward Bus is published.
March (Late): Steinbeck discusses a trip to Russia with Robert Capa at the Bedford Hotel bar.
The New York Herald Tribune is interested in publishing articles from Steinbeck and pictures by Capa of the trip.
May 14: John injures his knee after a fall from a second-story window. The trip to Russia with Capa is postponed.
June (Early): John, Gwyn, and Robert Capa travel to Paris.
June 5: Secretary of State George Marshall outlines a plan for reconstructing a war-ravaged Europe, that will become known as the “Marshall Plan.”
July 18: Gwyn returns to New York from Paris.
July 21: Steinbeck and Capa fly from Paris to Stockholm.
July 31–August 1: Steinbeck and Capa land in Moscow.
August 4–19: Steinbeck is in Kiev. (Dates estimated from a letter to Pat Covici.)
August 20: Steinbeck arrives in Stalingrad.
October: House Committee on Un-American Activities begins hearings in Washington.
October 4–5: Steinbeck and Capa fly from Paris to New York on an Air France.
November: The Pearl is published.
November 24: The Hollywood Ten are cited with contempt of Congress and are “blacklisted” from working in Hollywood the next day.
December 18: Steinbeck incorporates World Video Inc. as president with Robert Capa and Phil Reisman as vice presidents.
January (Early): Steinbeck flies to California for research and to spend time with Ed Ricketts.
April: A Russian Journal is published by Viking Press.
April 20–27: John has a procedure to remove varicose veins in his legs and is hospitalized for a week. (Hospital indate is estimated from a previous letter to Ed Ricketts. Steinbeck’s outdate is confirmed by a letter to Bo Beskow.)
May 8: Ed Ricketts crosses a railroad track when his truck was hit by the Del Monte Express train at the Drake Avenue crossing off Cannery Row.
May 11: Ed Ricketts dies in injuries sustained in the May 8th automobile accident; Steinbeck cannot get to California in time to see his friend before he passes.
May (Mid): After Ed Ricketts’ funeral, Steinbeck and George Robinson visit Rickett’s lab on Cannery Row. The pair burns many of Ricketts’ journals and Steinbeck’s letters to Ed.
May 20: Steinbeck returns to New York by this date.
June (Early): Steinbeck returns to Mexico and is back in New York by June 19th.
June 11: The Los Angles Examiner announces that Ring Laudner Jr., a member of the “Hollywood Ten,” would write the screenplay for Steinbeck’s Pastures of Heaven. This was the first time employment of a member of the Hollywood Ten had ever been considered. The movie was never made.
June 24: Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin blocks all land routes into West Berlin through East Germany. The action will result in Western powers beginning the use of the Berlin Airlift to send supplies into West Berlin.
June–August: Steinbeck spends much of these months in Mexico working on the film Viva Zapata!
August (Mid): Gwyn tells Steinbeck she wishes to divorce him.
September (Early): Steinbeck moves to Pacific Grove. John takes along former Navy steward James Neale as a domestic servant.
September 18: Ritch and Tal Lovejoy join John for coffee this morning.
November 2: Steinbeck rendezvouses with Elia Kazan in Los Angeles.
November 5: Steinbeck and Kazan fly to Mexico City to assist in the filming of Viva Zapata!
November 14: John returns to California from Mexico.
November 23: Steinbeck is elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
December 25: “The Miracle of Tepayac” is published by Collier’s Weekly.
December (Late): Steinbeck spends New Year’s in Los Angeles.
March 28: The film version of The Red Pony is released in the United States after a seven-year delay.
March: Writers meeting at New York’s Waldorf Astoria calls for the end of hostilities between the Soviets and Americans.
April 4: NATO is founded.
May: Steinbeck goes to Monterey’s Del Monte Aviation to discuss flight lessons for his domestic servant John Neale and the possibility of purchasing an aircraft.
May 27–30: John spends the weekend in Pacific Grove with Ann Southern and Elaine Scott. This is the first time he meets his future wife Elaine.
June (Late)–August (Late): John spends the summer with his sons in Pacific Grove.
August 29: The Soviet Union tests their first atomic bomb.
October 14: Toby Street visits John in Pacific Grove.
November 1: Jules Buck works with Steinbeck in Pacific Grove for early script work on Viva Zapata!.
November (Early)–November 14: Jack Wagner is a house-guest of John in Pacific Grove.
December (Late): John is back in New York in time for the holidays.
January 28: John attends a party for Ethyl Barrymore. In attendance are Margo Albert, Bernard Mannes Baruch, Leonard Bernstein, Ray Bolger, Abe Burrows, Lillian Gish, Frank Loesser, John Ringling North, and William Saroyan.
February 4: John sees Caesar and Cleo at New York’s National Theater.
June (Late)–September (Early): John and Elaine spend the summer with John’s sons in Rockland County. The budding family rents a house that belonged to artist Henry Varnum Poor.
June 22: Red Channels is published, effectively blacklisting over 150 actors, authors, composers, musicians, and broadcasters.
June 25: North Korea invades South Korea, beginning the Korean War.
October: Novella Burning Bright is published.
October 5: John is in Boston for rehearsals and last-minute rewrites of Burning Bright.
October 18: The stage version of Burning Bright opens at New York’s Broadherst Theater. The play runs until October 28, 1950 (13 performances).
November 2: Steinbeck’s interview with Eleanor Roosevelt on The Eleanor Roosevelt Show (NBC Radio) is broadcast. During the interview, the former First Lady asks John about his new play, Burning Bright.
December 7: John and Elaine attend a performance of Clifford Odets’ The Country Girl at the Lyceum Theatre.
December 28: Steinbeck marries third wife, Elaine Anderson Scott.
January (Early)–January 8: John and Elaine travel to Somerset, Bahamas, and leave for New York on the 8th, aboard Pan American flight 133.
January 31: John and Elaine move into a house on New York’s 72nd St.
February 12: Steinbeck begins work on East of Eden.
February 21: Steinbeck tapes an interview for VOA on art under dictatorship.
February 24: Steinbeck attends a party; no other details are available.
February 28: Steinbeck attends a World Video stockholder’s meeting.
March 9–11: Steinbeck and Elaine spend the weekend at Burgess Meredith’s house.
March 16: Steinbeck and Elaine see The Rose Tattoo.
March 21: In his journal, Steinbeck predicts that the Soviet Union will break up under its own weight. He also believes the United States should reach out to dissidents to hasten Communism’s end. John also prognosticates that a one-world government is in the works.
March 24: During the Easter weekend, Steinbeck spends the night in Long Island for an unknown reason.
March 29: Julius and Ethyl Rosenberg are convicted of espionage for passing nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union. Steinbeck and Elaine attend the opening of The King and I and have dinner afterward with John O’Hara at Sardi’s.
April 7: Steinbeck and Elaine attend a party for the musical South Pacific in New York.
April 13: Steinbeck writes in his journal that Collier’s wants him to “make the big trip” in January of 1952.
April 17: Steinbeck spends the evening with Clifford Odets and Juan Negrin.
April 29: Steinbeck and Elaine attend two separate parties. One party is at Faye Emerson’s and another is for Joan Crawford at the Stork Club.
May 1: The Steinbecks host a dinner party for Frank and Lynn Looser and Fred and Portland Allen.
May 10: The Steinbecks have dinner with a distant relative of Elaine’s, oil baron Lawrence Hagy.
May 25: John is scheduled to attend the National Book Award (Poetry) nomination of Archie MacLeish.
May 29: John and Elaine attend the second opening of Oklahoma.
June (Mid) to September (Mid): John and Elaine spend the summer with John’s sons in Nantucket. John continues to work on East of Eden.
July 19: Elizabeth Otis visits Steinbeck and Elaine for several days.
July 4: American journalist William N. Oatis receives a ten-year sentence in Czechoslovakia on an espionage charge.
August 8: Ballerina Tamera Geva visits John and Elaine.
August 10: Geva and Kent Smith visit the Steinbecks. Kent appeared in Steinbeck’s play Burning Bright.
September: The Log from the Sea of Cortez, the narrative part of the Sea of Cortez (1941), is published by Viking Press. This edition includes an original essay About Ed Ricketts.
September 26: Steinbeck attends a production of Burning Bright.
October 16: John and Elaine go to a production of A Streetcar Named Desire with Elia Kazan.
October 23: Steinbeck buys a raincoat for the 1952 European trip.
October 24: Steinbeck tapes an interview for VOA.
November (Early): John finishes the manuscript for East of Eden.
January 14: Steinbeck’s friend and co-writer of Viva Zapata! Elia Kazan testifies before an executive committee meeting of HUAC. Kazan admits he was a member of the Communist Party in 1936, but is hesitant to name other members.
January 28: Steinbeck writes CIA Director Walter Bedell “Beetle” Smith offering his assistance to the CIA during John’s upcoming trip to Europe.
January 31: A USIA interview with Steinbeck is broadcast on VOA.
February 6: Walter Bedell Smith replies to Steinbeck’s letter that the Agency would be interested in his help and instructs Steinbeck to visit him before leaving for Europe.
February 7: Viva Zapata! is released in the United States.
February 11: A USIA interview with Steinbeck is broadcast on VOA.
February 26: A USIA interview with Steinbeck is broadcast on VOA.
February 27: Steinbeck celebrates his 50th birthday.
March 11: Dwight Eisenhower wins New Hampshire’s Republican primary.
March 18: The State Department is sent a report by the FBI fulfilling a request on any information the FBI holds on Steinbeck after February 13, 1948.
March (Late): Steinbeck and Elaine leave New York bound for Genoa, Italy. The ship changes course and lands in Casablanca and then Algiers. While in Algiers, the Steinbecks attend a party thrown by a French Air Force General.
The couple takes a ship from Algiers to Marcelles and then drives to Spain.
April 10: Elia Kazan testifies before HUAC for a second time. Kazan amends his January testimony and names persons he knew were in the Communist Party in the 1930s.
April 11: Steinbeck and Elaine arrive in Madrid. (Date is estimated based on the source letter.)
April 21: Steinbeck and Elaine travel to Seville.
April 28: General Matthew Ridgway is named as NATO commander.
May 11: Steinbeck and Elaine arrive in Paris via a train from Madrid.
May 27: Steinbeck writes to Elizabeth Otis that he has been interviewed by the Communist publication Combat.
May (Late)–July (Mid): Steinbeck and Elaine take a driving tour from Paris to Milan, Venice, Florence, and Rome.
May 28 or 29: Steinbeck and Elaine leave Paris and travel by car to Dijon.
May 29 or 30: Steinbeck and Elaine travel by car from Dijon to Poligny.
June 1: Steinbeck and Elaine travel from Poligny to Geneva.
June 16: Steinbeck and Elaine arrive in Rome.
June 23: Steinbeck’s Italian literary agent throws a reception in John’s honor.
June 25: John and Elaine have reservations to depart South Hampton, UK, on the Queen Elizabeth bound for New York but do not board.
July 13: John and Elaine arrive back in Paris.
July 14: Steinbeck and Elaine have dinner with John Houston, José Ferrer, Robert Capa, Suzanne Flon, and the cast of Moulin Rouge at the Eifel Tower Restaurant.
July 24: Steinbeck and Elaine leave Paris for London.
July 25–August 16: Steinbeck and Elaine travel throughout England and Scotland.
August 17: John and Elaine arrive in Londonderry, Ireland.
August 23: “A Duel without Pistols” is published in Collier’s Weekly.
August 30: “The Soul and Guts of France” is published by Collier’s Weekly.
August 31: John and Elaine fly from Orly Airport in Paris to New York on Air France flight 037.
September: East of Eden is published.
September 10: Steinbeck finishes reading Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea.
September 25: Rita Reil of the International Press Alliance Corporation writes Elizabeth Otis about the French newspaper France Dimanche refuting facts in “The Soul and Guts of France.”
Fall: Steinbeck becomes involved with Adali Stevenson’s campaign for president and writes speeches for Stevenson rallies throughout the East Coast. At this point, Steinbeck and Stevenson have never met.
January: Steinbeck and Elaine go to the Virgin Islands for a vacation.
January 10: Collier’s Weekly publishes “The Secret Weapon We Were Afraid to Use.”
January 20: Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes President of the United States.
January 31: “I Go Back to Ireland” is published in Collier’s Weekly.
March 24–27: Steinbeck takes his sons to Nantucket for a brief vacation while Elaine visits family in Texas.
April 23: Roy Cohn and G. David Schine, chief aides to Senator Joseph McCarthy, return from an investigatory trip to USIS posts in Europe. The pair removed 30,000 books from USIS libraries that included works from Steinbeck, Herman Melville, and Henry David Thoreau.
June 2: Roland William Kibbee testifies to HUAC that while Steinbeck’s novels did more for agricultural workers than “anyone else in the Communist Party,” Steinbeck was at odds with the Communists. The sources could not present any proof of the claim.
July 27: An armistice is signed, effectively ending the Korean War.
September: Steinbeck rents a cottage in Sag Harbor to be closer to the producers of the musical version of Cannery Row.
January: John and Elaine vacation in Saint John and meet John Kenneth Galbraith and his wife.
March 1: FBI sends a summary file check report on Steinbeck to the USIA.
March 10: FBI generates a summary of findings on Steinbeck for an unknown reason, but could possibly be related to the USIA request.
March 19: John and Elaine board the Italian Lines ship Saturina bound for Lisbon.
March 26: Steinbeck and Elaine land in Lisbon for an extended tour of Europe.
April 21: Steinbeck and Elaine are in Seville.
April 22: Steinbeck visits the Seville’s Archives of the Indies to view original documents from Christopher Columbus.
May 7: French forces fall to the Viet Minh at Dien Bien Phu.
May 14: Steinbeck and Elaine arrive in Paris after a six-day road trip. One of the stops along the way was an overnight at Blois.
May 21: Steinbeck’s French literary agent holds a reception in John’s honor.
May 25: Steinbeck moves into their rented house at Number 1 Avenue de Marginy.
May 27: Steinbeck receives word that Robert Capa has been killed by a landmine in French-Indochina.
June: Sweet Thursday is published.
June 13: Steinbeck agrees to be part of a charity event for the children of soldiers who died under General Leclerc’s liberation army. The event is held at the Tuileries Garden.
July: “Jalopies I Cursed and Loved” is published in Holiday Magazine’s July issue.
July (Early): Steinbeck travels to Munich at the request of the USIA to record personal statements about the situation in East Germany. These comments will be broadcast on Radio Free Europe.
August 14: John holds a birthday party for Elaine at a chateau outside of Paris. The party and its trappings are said to have been the genesis for The Short Reign of Pippin IV.
August 25: “Fishing in Paris” is published by Punch Magazine.
September 8: Elaine and Steinbeck leave Paris for London.
September 29: Steinbeck is in Saint Paul de Venice, France, and notes in a letter to Elizabeth Otis that he has shaved his thirty-year-old moustache off.
October 28 or 29: The United States Embassy in Rome holds a reception for Steinbeck. Steinbeck also mentions in an October 29th letter to Elizabeth Otis that “Italy is full of flying saucers” and that “Clare Luce says she saw something [UFO].”
October (Late): Steinbeck leaves Rome with Elaine to take a tour with the Greek Islands with John McKnight (head of USIS in Rome) and his wife.
November 29: John and Elaine are in Sicily.
December 2: Steinbeck and Elaine travel from Positano, Italy, to Naples.
December (Late): Steinbeck and Elaine return to New York aboard the Andrea Doria and land just in time to celebrate Christmas. During the trip, John meets Mark Ethridge of the Louisville Courier-Journal.
January: William Faulkner and Steinbeck meet for the first time.
The January edition of Reader’s Digest runs “How to Fish in French.”
March: John purchases a summer home in Sag Harbor, New York.
March 9: John attends the premier of the stage version of East of Eden at the Astor Theater. In attendance are Raymond Massey, Elia Kazan, and Jack Warner.
April 2: John begins writing editorials and articles for The Saturday Review. His first piece, “Death of a Racket,” is published in the April 2nd edition.
April 4: Steinbeck has lunch with Dag Hammarskjöld.
April 10: The film version of East of Eden opens in the United States.
May 28: “Some Thoughts on Juvenile Delinquency” is published by the Saturday Review.
June: “Always Something to Do in Salinas” is published in the June edition of Holiday Magazine.
July 5: Steinbeck takes his boat from Sag Harbor to fish off Montauk Point.
September 26: John has lunch with Pipe Dream star Helen Traumbel.
October (unknown date): Steinbeck travels to Boston for performances of Pipe Dream.
November 30: New York City opening of Pipe Dream at the Schubert Theater. The production is a Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein musical based on Sweet Thursday and runs for 256 performances ending on June 30, 1956.
December: “What Is the Real Paris?” is published by Holiday Magazine’s December issue.
December (Late): John and Elaine travel to Trinidad for the New Year’s holiday with Rogers and Hammerstein staffer John Fearnley. After New Year’s, the trio sails around the Windward and Leeward Islands.
January: “The Yank in Europe” is published in Holiday Magazine’s January issue.
February: “Miracle Island of Paris” is published in Holiday Magazine’s February issue.
April 13: Steinbeck goes to Washington for an unknown purpose. He mentions in a letter to Pat Covici that he “haven’t (sic) been there since the war. I hope they’ve cleared the rubble.”
May 5: Steinbeck covers the Kentucky Derby for the Louisville Courier-Journal and meets Harry Guggenheim and wife Alicia Patterson. The meeting will lead to John writing for the Guggenheim-owned Newsday.
July 1: Chase Horton talks to J.M.S. Blakiston at Winchester College at 9:25 a.m. and has lunch with Robert Payne at Winchester later that day. Horton takes a taxi to the Duke of Norfolk’s Castle in Asundel.
July 2: Chase Horton notes Steinbeck leaves London on this day.
August: “Discovering the People of Paris” is published in Holiday Magazine’s August edition.
August 10–17: Steinbeck is in Chicago to attend the Democratic National Convention and covers the event for the Louisville Courier-Journal.
August 20–23: Steinbeck attends the Republican National Convention in San Francisco.
September: Steinbeck performs services as a speechwriter for Adlai Stevenson and the USIA. Steinbeck also records a number of pieces for Radio Free Europe.
November 19: John finishes the manuscript for The Short Reign of Pippin IV.
December or January (Early) 1957: President Eisenhower asks William Faulkner to head his “People to People” program. (Date is estimated from source letter.)
January (Early): Steinbeck prepares for another trip to the UK, funded by articles he will write for the Louisville Courier-Journal.
January 7: Steinbeck visits the Morgan Library in New York City.
January 17: Steinbeck writes Arthur Larson, Director of the USIA, regarding sending books to Eastern Europe and admonishing the denial of a passport to signer and civil rights activist Paul Robeson.
January 19: Steinbeck has lunch with Chase Horton.
March: “My War with the Ospreys” is published in Holiday Magazine’s March edition.
March 25: Steinbeck and Elaine set sail for Naples on the Saturnia.
April: The Short Reign of Pippin IV is published.
April 12: The CIA is sent information about Steinbeck from the FBI. This report is also sent to the CIA’s Office of Security to a redacted source on April 15th.
April 26: Steinbeck is in Rome and writes Elizabeth Otis and Chase Horton regarding his Malory research.
May 9: Steinbeck is in Florence.
May 17: Steinbeck spends the evening with Professor Armando Sapori.
May 27: The film version of The Wayward Bus is released in America.
June: Esquire publishes Steinbeck’s “The Trial of Arthur Miller.”
July 4: Steinbeck is in Stockholm.
July 13: Steinbeck is in London.
July 17: “Red Novelist’s Visit Produces Uneasy Talk” is published by the Louisville Courier-Journal.
July 18: Steinbeck meets Eugene Vinaver in Manchester for the first time.
July 19: Steinbeck spends the night at the Royal Crewe Arms in Blanchland.
July 20: Steinbeck writes Eugene Vinaver about their first meeting.
The postscript of this letter has been removed from Steinbeck: A Life in Letters. John also visits Rothbury and Hadrian’s Wall.
July 21: Steinbeck travels along Hadrian’s Wall and down into Wales.
July 22: Steinbeck travels to Tresanton Saint Mawes near Falmouth.
July 23: Steinbeck returns to Manchester.
July 25: John and Elaine return to New York on the Queen Elizabeth.
August 30: Steinbeck boards Pan American flight 857 from San Francisco to Tokyo.
September 1–10: Steinbeck attends a meeting of the International Association of Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists and Novelists in Tokyo. John leaves Tokyo on the 10th on Pan American flight 856.
September (Late): Steinbeck returns to his Sag Harbor home to continue work on the Malory project.
October 4: The Soviets launch the first artificial Earth satellite, Sputnik 1, into low Earth orbit.
February 12: The United Nations contacts Steinbeck to ask if he will travel to the “Near-East to do some kind of definitive work on a film about the refugee situation there.” Steinbeck declines the offer to continue work on the Malory project.
May: Steinbeck is in London.
June 4: Chase Horton speaks to Joseph Campbell.
June (Early): Steinbeck and Elaine travel to England for research on the Malory project.
June 10–13: Steinbeck travels by train from London to Glastonbury. While in Glastonbury, he stays in the George and Pilgrim and meets Robert Bolt. John returns to London on the afternoon of the 13th.
July (Early): Steinbeck and Elaine return to New York from the UK.
September: Once There Was a War is published.
September (Late): Steinbeck sends a finished draft of the Malory project to Chase Horton and Elizabeth Otis for review.
November 6: John replies to a letter by Stuart L. Hannon, assistant to the director of Radio Free Europe. Steinbeck grants Radio Free Europe the right to air/publish his comments on Boris Pasternak’s (author of Dr. Zhivago) Nobel Prize for Literature award.
January 31: Steinbeck has a phone conversation with Chase Horton.
March–October: John travels in England and Wales, researching background for a modern English version of Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur.
March 5–11: Steinbeck sails from New York to Plymouth, UK, aboard the Liberte.
April 30: Steinbeck is in Cadbury.
May 2: Steinbeck visits Glastonbury and the ruins of the Abbey.
May 13: Steinbeck is disheartened by an initial review of his Le Morte d’Arthur rewrite by Chase Horton and Elizabeth Otis.
June 24: Steinbeck is in Cadbury for Mid-Summer’s Eve and believes he saw the ghost of King Arthur.
July: An FBI informant relays that Steinbeck has received a check in the amount of $188.70 from the New York account of the National Bank of Bulgaria. The check is supposedly forwarded to Steinbeck via his literary agent at McIntosh and Otis.
July 2: John and Elaine visit Plush Folly in Dorset.
August 26: Steinbeck spends the day at Amesbury with Sir Philip Antrobus.
October 1–14: Steinbeck is in London.
October 22: Steinbeck returns to New York from the UK aboard the Flandre.
December 3: A minor stroke hospitalizes John for two weeks.
January 11–25: John and Elaine vacation in Caneel Bay.
March–July: Steinbeck drafts the final versions of The Winter of Our Discontent.
May 1: While conducting a reconnaissance mission for the CIA, Francis Gary Powers’ U-2 is shot down over the Soviet Union.
September 23–November: Steinbeck tours the United States with his poodle, Charley.
January 20: Steinbeck and Elaine attend President Kennedy’s inaugural address with John Kenneth Galbraith and his wife.
February 20: Steinbeck is in the British West Indies. (Dates of travel are unknown, but the source notes Steinbeck was here during this period.)
February 28: Steinbeck is in Barbados. (Dates of actual travel are unknown, but the source denotes Steinbeck was here during this period.)
March: “Conversation at Sag Harbor” is published in Holiday Magazine’s March edition.
March–April: John travels to San Diego to perform duties for the Mohole Expedition. The team plans to drill a 12,000-foot hole off the coast of Mexico. John has to return from the expedition due to a torn hernia.
April: The Winter of Our Discontent is published.
April 17–19: The Bay of Pigs Invasion occurs.
May 24: John and Elaine have dinner with Dag Hammarskjöld.
July: “In Quest of America Part One” is published in Holiday Magazine’s July edition.
August 13: East Germany closes the border between East and West Berlin and begins construction of the Berlin Wall four days later.
September (Early): Prior to the 5th, Dag Hammarskjöld meets with John. Hammarskjöld wrote letters of introduction to Heads of State whom he thought Steinbeck might wish to call on during his time abroad. These included the president of the United Arab Republic, Gamal Abdel Nasser; Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion; vice president of India, Dr. S. Radakrishnan; and Prime Minister of Burma, U. Nu. Hammarskjöld also sent a letter of introduction to Professor Martin Buber in Jerusalem.
September 8: John, Elaine, and John’s sons set sail for England aboard the Rotterdam.
September–June 1962: Steinbeck spends ten months in Europe.
November: Steinbeck suffers a minor stroke/heart attack in Milan.
December: “In Quest of America Part Two” is published in Holiday Magazine’s December edition.
December 24: John and Elaine have an audience with Pope John XXIII at the Vatican.
February: “In Quest of America Part Three” is published in Holiday Magazine’s February edition.
February 27: John celebrates his 60
birthday on the Isle of Capri.
July: Travels with Charley is published.
June (Late): Steinbeck writes journalist Max Freedman regarding John’s ideas about subversive activities to undermine Communist control of the Berlin Wall.
July 21: Journalist Max Freedman contacts President Kennedy’s assistant Evelyn Lincoln about Steinbeck’s Berlin War proposals.
August 21: President Kennedy writes to journalist Max Freedman regarding Steinbeck’s proposals on the Berlin Wall.
October 14–28: Tensions between the Soviets and Americans result in the two-week Cuban Missile Crisis.
October 25: Steinbeck is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and holds a press conference.
November 5: John takes publicity photos at his home in Sag Harbor.
November 17: John takes more publicity photos in Sag Harbor.
December 10: Steinbeck delivers Nobel Prize acceptance speech in Stockholm.
May: Steinbeck and Edward Albee are in Washington for briefings on their upcoming Soviet Union trip.
October 6: The New York Herald Tribune publishes “Reflections of a Lunar Eclipse.”
October–December: Steinbeck travels to Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and Russia on United States Information Agency cultural tour, with playwright Edward Albee.
November 15: Steinbeck poses for Martiros Saryan, Lenin Prize laureate painter of Russia in Moscow.
November 22: President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas, and Lyndon Johnson is sworn in as President of the United States. Steinbeck and Albee are still behind the Iron Curtain. Steinbeck decides that the pair should finish the mission President Kennedy had sent them on to honor the memory of the fallen president.
December 17: Steinbeck is debriefed by the State Department for three days after his return to the States. Albee and Steinbeck are known to have met with Lucius Battle after returning to Washington.
After the debriefing, Steinbeck and Elaine meet President Johnson at a White House dinner.
January 3: USIA interview with Steinbeck and Edward Albee is broadcast on VOA.
February: Steinbeck meets with Jacqueline Kennedy regarding a biography of John F. Kennedy. The project never came to fruition.
February 27: CIA requests information about Steinbeck from the FBI.
April 23: Steinbeck is in New York with presidential adviser Jack Valenti.
August 21: Steinbeck has an eight-minute telephone conversation with President Johnson about attending the Democratic National Convention and speechwriting.
September 14: John is presented with the United States Medal of Freedom by President Johnson.
October 14: Longtime friend and Steinbeck’s publisher Pat Covici dies.
January (Early): Steinbeck and Elaine travel from Ireland to London and then go on to Paris.
January 23: Steinbeck’s sister Mary Steinbeck Dekker dies in California.
April (Late): LBJ invites John and Elaine for a weekend at the White House.
June 20: Steinbeck writes Douglas Fairbanks Jr. to arrange a visit to the Duchess of Buccleuch’s family library with Eugene Vinevar.
Also a report is sent to FBI Associate Director Clyde Tolson and Deputy Director Cartha DeLoach on Steinbeck’s background.
October 5: Steinbeck attends “Businessman’s Dinner” at the White House with President Johnson.
November: Steinbeck was back in Northumberland, with Eugene Vinaver of Manchester, examining manuscripts in the Alnwick Castle library.
December (Late): Steinbeck spends Christmas with John Houston at his house in St. Clearan’s, Ireland.
December 31: Steinbeck’s “Letters to Alicia” article published in Newsday tells of a possible new Malory manuscript at Alnwick Castle.
March 9: An invitation to the Bohemian Club’s summer retreat, known as Bohemian Grove, is sent to John.
March 18: John declines invitation to Bohemian Grove.
April: President Johnson appoints Steinbeck to the Council of the National Endowment for the Arts.
May 16: Steinbeck and son John IV visit President Johnson at the White House.
July 1: John attends a whale boat race between the US Coast Guard and Norway at Sag Harbor.
October: Steinbeck and Elaine receive status as war correspondents for Newsday to cover the Vietnam conflict.
October 12: America and Americans is published by Viking Press.
December to April 1967: Steinbeck’s extensive visit to South Vietnam for fact-finding and to visit John IV.
April (Late): Steinbeck and Elaine leave Vietnam and visit Thailand and Laos.
May: Steinbeck and Elaine report to President Johnson about their experience in Vietnam at a White House meeting.
October 23: Steinbeck has back surgery.
December: Steinbeck vacations with Elaine to the Virgin Islands.
March 18: The FBI sends a name check on Steinbeck to Mildred Stegall, President Johnson’s White House aide.
August 21: Steinbeck returns to his Sag Harbor home.
December 20: Steinbeck dies in New York of arteriosclerosis.
Journal of a Novel: The “East of Eden” Letters is published.
Steinbeck: A Life in Letters is published by Viking Press.
The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights is published by Viking Press.