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He traveled to New York City where he took odd jobs while trying to write.
When those sources failed, Steinbeck and his wife accepted welfare, and on rare occasions, stole bacon from the local produce market.
Ricketts, usually very quiet, yet likable, with an inner self-sufficiency and an encyclopedic knowledge of diverse subjects, became a focus of Steinbeck's attention.
The elder Steinbecks gave John free housing, paper for his manuscripts, and from 1928, loans that allowed him to write without looking for work.
During the Great Depression, Steinbeck bought a small boat, and later claimed that he was able to live on the fish and crab that he gathered from the sea, and fresh vegetables from his garden and local farms.
His works frequently explored the themes of fate and injustice, especially as applied to downtrodden or everyman protagonists.
Johann Adolf Großsteinbeck (1828–1913), Steinbeck's paternal grandfather, shortened the family name to Steinbeck when he immigrated to the United States.
; February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968) was an American author.
He won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception." During his writing career, he authored 27 books, including 16 novels, six non-fiction books, and two collections of short stories.
The family farm in Heiligenhaus, Mettmann, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, is still named "Großsteinbeck." His father, John Ernst Steinbeck (1862–1935), served as Monterey County treasurer.
John's mother, Olive Hamilton (1867–1934), a former school teacher, shared Steinbeck's passion for reading and writing.