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Quiz about John Steinbeck
Quiz about John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck Trivia Quiz

Can you place these events from the life of this Nobel laureate American author in order?
This is a renovated/adopted version of an old quiz by author stevethehunter

An ordering quiz by looney_tunes. Estimated time: 3 mins.
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3 mins
Order Quiz
Quiz #
May 20 23
# Qns
Avg Score
7 / 10
Last 3 plays: krajack99 (10/10), camhammer (7/10), comark2000 (10/10).
Mobile instructions: Press on an answer on the right. Then, press on the question it matches on the left.
(a) Drag-and-drop from the right to the left, or (b) click on a right side answer, and then click on its destination box to move it.
What's the Correct Order?Choices
Won the Pulitzer Prize for 'The Grapes of Wrath'
Marriage to Gwyndolyn "Gwyn" Conger
Travelled America with his poodle Charley
Travels with Ed Ricketts during the Great Depression
Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature
Marriage to Carol Henning
War correspondent during World War II
Marriage to Elaine Scott
Student at Stanford University after graduating high school
Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Student at Stanford University after graduating high school

Steinbeck attended Stanford for two years, studying Literature and Composition, but left before completing the degree. He moved to New York City, and took on a series of jobs while trying to establish himself as a writer. In 1928 he moved back to California, taking on a job as a tour guide in Lake Tahoe.

This quiz started at the first major life event following his birth in 1902, which would have been pretty obviously the first one! He was born and grew up in Salinas, near San Francisco, and used that area as the setting for many of his novels. As a youth he spent his summers working on ranches, on farms alongside migrant workers, and in some factories. These experiences clearly provided him familiarity with the background for many of his later characters.
2. Marriage to Carol Henning

While working in Lake Tahoe, Steinbeck met Carol Henning, who married him in 1930. Theyu started married life in Los Angeles, but moved back to live in a cottage owned by his father in Monterey when they ran out of money. Impecuniousness was a hallmark of the next years, with his parents providing their house and some money to allow him to concentrate on writing instead of looking for work.

The onset of the Great Depression didn't help things, and the Steinbecks got a lot of their food from his fishing in the sea, and both of them raising vegetables in their own garden (as well as being paid in kind when they assisted neighbouring farms in gathering their produce).
3. Travels with Ed Ricketts during the Great Depression

In 1930, as well as marrying Carol, Steinbeck met Ed Ricketts, a marine biologist who was to become a major influence on his life. For most of the 1930s, the two frequently travelled together on field trips so Ricketts could collect specimens. In 1941 they coauthored 'Sea of Cortez', a combination of travelogue (Steinbeck's contribution) and part biology/ecology (from Ricketts) based on a six-week journey to collect marine specimens. The book did not sell well, but in 1951 Steinbeck republished the travelogue bits as 'The Log from the Sea of Cortez'.

Ed Ricketts was the model on which Steinbeck based a number of his characters, including Casy in 'The Grapes of Wrath' and Doc in 'Cannery Row' (1945) and 'Sweet Thursday' (1954). Their close friendship became less so after Steinbeck divorced his first wife in 1941, then moved away from Pacific Grove.
4. Won the Pulitzer Prize for 'The Grapes of Wrath'

For many people, this is the first book they think of when asked to name a book written by John Steinbeck. As well as being awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1940, this 1939 book also won the National Book Award, and was specifically mentioned in his later Nobel Prize citation. Set in the Great Depression, it follows the Joad family as them travel from the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma to California, and attempt to find work as farm labourers. The name may be familiar to those who have not read the book because of the 1940 film starring Henry Fonda as Tom Joad and John Carradine as Jim Casy.

This was only one of a series of so-called Dust Bowl novels Steinbeck wrote during the 1930s. Another that should be familiar, at least by name, is 'Of Mice and Men' (1937), a tragedy about two migrant workers in pursuit of their dream to own a small farm and settle down.
5. Marriage to Gwyndolyn "Gwyn" Conger

The marriage to Carol ended in 1941, even as Steinbeck was writing (with Ed Ricketts) the book that chronicled the trip the three of them had taken together in the Gulf of California during 1940. Following the finalisation of the divorce, he married Gwyn in 1943. The marriage took place in New Orleans, but the couple settled in New York City. They had two sons, Thom (born in 1944) and John IV (born 1946). (Parenthetical note: I find his name listed elsewhere as John Jr, and his father's as John Jr. These are mutually discordant. He may have been called Jr to differentiate him from his father, but if his father was not John III, it is strange for him to be called John IV.)

Gwyn was 15 years younger than him, and the marriage seems to have been somewhat stormy. Their divorce was finalised in 1949, and Gwyn too custody of the boys. Following John's death in 1968 she agreed to be interviewed by Douglas Brown, a British journalist, who put together a memoir titled 'My Life with Steinbeck' which was never published. The manuscript was discovered years later and published in 2018. In it, she describes John Steinbeck in far from affectionate terms.
6. War correspondent during World War II

In 1943 Steinbeck became a war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune, In that role, he participated in a number of raids conducted on Mediterranean islands by a group called the Beach Jumpers, led by Douglas Fairbanks Jr. These raids were diversionary, to draw German attention away from the 'real' invasion happening at another site at the same time, but nonetheless involved real risk, and Steinbeck was wounded several times, although never seriously.

Following the war, Steinbeck published 'Cannery Row' (1945), which was so popular that its setting, the real life Ocean View Avenue on Monterey, was renamed to Cannery Row in 1958. In 1947 'The Pearl', one of his books often assigned in high school English classes, was published.
7. Marriage to Elaine Scott

1948 was a rough year for Steinbeck, with Gwyn divorcing him and Ed Ricketts dying in a traffic accident, and he spent most of that year and the next dealing with consequent depression. In June of 1949 he met Carol Scott at a Carmel restaurant, and they married in 1950, less than a week after her divorce from Zachary Scott was finalised.

This marriage lasted until his death in 1968. She and Robert Wallsten edited material from Steinbeck's diaries and letters, published in 1975 under the title 'Steinbeck: A Life in Letters'.
8. Travelled America with his poodle Charley

In 1960 Steinbeck bought a truck that he turned into a home-made campervan, given the name Rocinante (a reference to Don Quixote's horse) and set out to travel around the country and get in touch with the roots of contemporary society. His 1962 book 'Travels with Charley: In Search of America' records his trip which started on Long Island, took him up the east coast to Maine, across the northern border(ish) to the west coast, down through California (including the Salinas Valley of his youth), across the southern part of the country through Texas, Louisiana and the Deep South states, then up the east coast to Long Island.

Although the book is classified as a travelogue, many people have noticed that there is a significant amount of fiction included. Don't try to use his description of the trip to follow in his footsteps - it doesn't work. The title, chosen by Steinbeck in conjunction with his wife Elaine, was a tribute to Robert Louis Stevenson's 1895 account of a hiking trip with a donkey named Modestine carrying his equipment, 'Travels with a Donkey in the CÚvennes'.
9. Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature

Steinbeck was the 1952 recipient of this honour, which his citation attributed to his "realistic and imaginative writing, combining as it does sympathetic humor and keen social perception". The award was very controversial, and Steinbeck himself said he did not feel he deserved it. Nevertheless, this award followed him being nominated 11 times, starting in 1943, so he definitely had literary supporters.

In 2012 the archived records for 1952 Nobel Committee were opened, and they revealed that the panel had selected him as being something of a compromise candidate. The shortlist in 1952 was John Steinbeck, Robert Graves, Lawrence Durrell, Jean Anouilh and Karen Blixen. Blixen was the choice of several members, but the Committee was worried about looking parochial - these are Scandinavian awards, and although she is Danish rather than Swedish, the group didn't feel she was clearly enough the best candidate to offset the appearance of favouritism. Steinbeck has been called the best of a weak field, but that does disservice to the excellent work of the other nominees.
10. Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Steinbeck received this award from Lyndon Johnson, with whom he had a close friendship. The award was established by John F. Kennedy, as the highest award that could be granted to a civilian who had made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." The thirty awards in 1964 also included Walt Disney, T. S. Eliot, Helen Keller, Alfred Lunt and Lynne Fontanne (individually) and Edward R. Murrow.

Following Steinbeck's death due to congestive heart failure in 1968, he was cremated and buried in the same plot as his parents and maternal grandparents in Salinas; Elaine was also interred there following her death in 2004.
Source: Author looney_tunes

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor gtho4 before going online.
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