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Of Mice and Men Study Guide

Author Biography

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) was born in Salinas, California. He came from a middle class family. His father was the county treasurer, and his mother was a former schoolteacher. She inspired and encouraged his love of books and reading.

He attended Stanford University, but he did not graduate. In his twenties, he traveled to New York City with the dream of supporting himself as a freelance writer. When his efforts failed, he went home to California. He then began to work seriously on novels and short stories.

When Steinbeck was a young adult, he spent his summer vacations working as a hired hand on local ranches. His interactions with the people he met during those summers greatly influenced the characters he created throughout his career. In an interview following the publication of Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck revealed that all the characters in the novel are composites based on real people.

Steinbeck said in his essay "Advice For Beginning Writers" (1963) that he still felt afraid every time he began writing a story, even though he had a long successful writing career behind him. He went on to say that a writer who does not experience this fear may not have an appropriate respect for the art of writing.

Book Summary


Of Mice and Men was published in 1937, after John Steinbeck had achieved literary acclaim with his novel Tortilla Flat but before he wrote his better known works The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden. The story epitomizes the themes and ideas that Steinbeck propounded throughout his novels: the plight of the laborers, the perils of isolation, and the hope for a better future. Set in California during the Great Depression, Of Mice and Men is an excellent vehicle...