The Grapes of Wrath, written in 100 days, by a man with a mission

September 6, 2019 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: books, history, journalism, writers, writing.

It took John Steinbeck less than 100 days in 1937 to write one of the 20th century’s great novels, The Grapes of Wrath.

Steinbeck was a writer and resident of Salinas, California, at the time. It was a town located near a migrant worker camp, and Steinbeck had witnessed the poverty, degradation, and oppression of those workers who had sold everything to get to the California fields to find work.

When they made it with their families — often in a numbed, half-starved condition — the growers had no qualms about taking advantage of them.

Steinbeck saw all of this because he had been hired by the San Francisco News to write a series of articles on the camps. Steinbeck visited the camps, talked with the works, and described what he saw in the series called The Harvest Gypsies.

Journalism wasn’t enough for the writer, however, and Steinbeck determined to make the workers and their families the focus of a novel. He wanted, he said, “to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this.”

The story of how the novel came about is contained in this succinct article in The Guardian: ‘My nerves are going fast’: The Grapes of Wrath’s hard road to publication | Books | The Guardian

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