Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

Search Collections
Spring 2002 Newsletter

John Steinbeck in His Time: A Centennial Exhibition

Dust jacket, John Steinbeck, The Red Pony. London: William Heinemann, Ltd., 1970.

Dust jacket, John Steinbeck, The Red Pony.
London: William Heinemann, Ltd., 1970.

Dust jacket, John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men. New York: Covici-Friede, 1937.

Dust jacket, John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men.
New York: Covici-Friede, 1937.

Dust jacket, John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath. New York: The Viking Press, 1939.

Dust jacket, John Steinbeck, The Grapes of
Wrath. New York: The Viking Press, 1939.

John Steinbeck, Photo by Toni Frisell, c. 1965, New York.

John Steinbeck, Photo by Toni Frisell, c. 1965,
New York.

Dust jacket, John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat. New York: The Viking Press, 1947. Illustrated by Peggy Worthington.

Dust jacket, John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat. New
York: The Viking Press, 1947. Illustrated by
Peggy Worthington.

In recognition of John Steinbeck's (1902-1968) contribution to American literature, the Mercantile Library of New York, in collaboration with San Jose State University and the National Steinbeck Center, has organized a national celebration of the Steinbeck Centennial titled Bard of the People: The Life and Times of John Steinbeck. The Ransom Center is proud to participate in this event with an exhibition titled John Steinbeck in His Time, on display in the Leeds Gallery from February 4 through July 31.

The exhibition includes images from the Photography Collection by Sanora Babb, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, and Edward Steichen, in addition to contemporary advertisements, film stills, and original manuscripts. Excerpts from Steinbeck's correspondence and from his texts are placed throughout the exhibition and reveal the writer's thoughts on the writing process. The aim of the exhibition is to set Steinbeck's life and works alongside images from the world he wrote about, in an attempt to situate his work in a specific cultural milieu. It is hoped that this focus will deepen the understanding of and appreciation for one of America's most outspoken and insightful voices.

Over the course of his life, Steinbeck produced over twenty works of fiction and non-fiction, which reached wide audiences by way of text, radio, and film. In his writing, he championed the people displaced and oppressed by the social, economic and political turmoil of his time. Migrant and cannery workers, strikers, immigrants and soldiers populate Steinbeck's landscape, which ranges in location from Oklahoma to California to Europe to New England. In treating his subjects, he concerned himself with the theme of the strength and nobility of the human spirit, which speaks as much to us today as it did to those who lived in Steinbeck's era.

Angelina Altobellis

Corresponding with John Steinbeck: Words Written from the Soul

Please also visit our concurrent Web exhibition. Conceived of as a thematic web of interconnected experiences, memories, and motifs from Steinbeck's life and work, this interactive online exhibition will provide visitors with a unique opportunity to get to know Steinbeck on their own terms. Using personal correspondence between Steinbeck and his close friend Pascal (Pat) Covici, along with excerpts and images from many of the author's most famous works, visitors can follow their own path in rediscovering this complex and multifaceted man.  

Avi Santo


Table of Contents