13 November, 2008

Michael Jordan

Michael Jeffrey Jordan is a retired American professional basketball player and active businessman. His biography on the National Basketball Association (NBA) website states, "By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time." Jordan was one of the most effectively marketed athletes of his generation, and was instrumental in popularizing the NBA around the world in the 1980s and 1990s.

After a stand-out career at the University of North Carolina, Jordan joined the NBA's Chicago Bulls in 1984. He quickly emerged as one of the stars of the league, entertaining crowds with his prolific scoring. His leaping ability, illustrated by performing slam dunks from the free throw line at Slam Dunk Contests, earned him the nicknames "Air Jordan" and "His Airness." He also gained a reputation as one of the best defensive players in basketball. In 1991, he won his first NBA championship with the Bulls, and followed that achievement with titles in 1992 and 1993, securing a "three-peat." Though Jordan abruptly left the NBA at the beginning of the 1993-94 NBA season to pursue a career in baseball, he rejoined the Bulls in 1995 and led them to three additional championships (1996, 1997, and 1998) as well as an NBA-record 72 regular-season wins in the 1995–96 season. Jordan retired for a second time in 1999, but he returned for two more NBA seasons in 2001 as a member of the Washington Wizards.

Jordan's individual accolades and accomplishments include five MVP awards, ten All-NBA First Team designations, nine All-Defensive First Team honors, fourteen NBA All-Star Game appearances and three All-Star MVP, ten scoring titles, three steals titles, six NBA Finals MVP awards, and the 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. He holds the NBA record for highest career regular season scoring average with 30.12 points per game, as well as averaging a record 33.4 points per game in the playoffs. In 1999, he was named the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN, and was second to Babe Ruth on the Associated Press's list of athletes of the century. He will be eligible for induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

Jordan is also noted for his product endorsements. He fueled the success of Nike's Air Jordan sneakers, which were introduced in 1985 and remain popular today. Jordan also starred in the 1996 feature film Space Jam. He is currently a part-owner and Managing Member of Basketball Operations of the Charlotte Bobcats in North Carolina.

12 November, 2008

Ralph Inbar

Ralph Inbar was a Dutch television director and producer.

Ralph Inbar was born in The Hague as the son of German- Jewish Fritz Kamp and the Dutch-Jewish Engelina Troostwijk. His original name was Ralf Jacob Kamp, but in Israel he took the surname Inbar ("amber").

Inbar survived the Second World War in hiding and then spent his childhood largely in homes. After high school he went to Israel and in 1963 the Academy of Jerusalem. This was followed by more film school of Paris . He returned in 1964 returned to the Netherlands. He began working as a director for the VARA . He has directed include the live shows of Rudi Carrell . Also, he directed a program of Sonja Barend , whom he married on December 5, 1968. The marriage lasted three years.

In 1968 he settled back in Israel, where he helped establish the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA), at the time the first and only long-time television in this country.

Since 1972 Ralph Inbar was employed by the TROS. Except Banana Split that in the late eighties was good for five million viewers per show, he made programs like Music All In , Fenklup, Take 2, Self Portrait and TV Masque . For TV Masque he received in 1992 a Golden Rose at the television festival in Montreux.

He was a welcome guest in the Israeli parallel program of Banana Split, which also fragments of Dutch programs are exceptions. In 1999 he was artistic director of the Eurovision Song Contest in Jerusalem , which had come to Israel by the gain of Dana International .

Inbar died at the age of 65 at a hospital in Hamburg where he had undergone a heart operation two months earlier. He was buried on 19 March 2004 in Israel.

Harry Mulisch

Harry Kurt Victor Mulisch was a Dutch writer. He wrote more than 80 novels, plays, essays, poems, and philosophical reflections. Mulisch's works have been translated into over 30 languages.

Along with Willem Frederik Hermans and Gerard Reve, Mulisch is considered one of the "Great Three" of Dutch postwar literature. His novel The Assault (1982) was adapted into a film that won both a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. Mulisch's work is also popular among the country's public: a 2007 poll of NRC Handelsblad readers voted his novel The Discovery of Heaven (1992) the greatest Dutch book ever written. He was regularly mentioned as a possible future Nobel laureate.

Harry Kurt Victor Mulisch was born on 29 July 1927 in Haarlem in the Netherlands. Mulisch's father was from Austria-Hungary and emigrated to the Netherlands after the First World War. During the German occupation in World War II his father worked for a German bank, which also dealt with confiscated Jewish assets. His mother, Alice Schwarz, was Jewish. Mulisch and his mother escaped transportation to a concentration camp thanks to Mulisch's father's collaboration with the Nazis, but his maternal grandmother died in a gas chamber. Mulisch was raised largely by his parents' housemaid, Frieda Falk. Mulisch said of himself, he did not just write about World War II, he was WWII.

Mulisch gained international recognition with the film The Assault (1986), based on his book of the same title (1982). It received an Oscar and a Golden Globe for best foreign movie and has been translated into more than twenty languages.

His novel The Discovery of Heaven (1992) is considered his masterpiece, and was voted “the best Dutch-language book ever” by Dutch readers in a 2007 newspaper poll. “It is the book that shaped our generation; it made us love, even obsess, with reading,” said Peter-Paul Spanjaard, 32, a lawyer in Amsterdam at the time of Mulisch's death. It was filmed in 2001 as The Discovery of Heaven by Jeroen Krabbé, starring Stephen Fry.

Among the many awards he received for individual works and his total body of work, the most important is the Prijs der Nederlandse Letteren (Prize of Dutch Literature, a lifetime achievement award) in 1995.

A frequent theme in his work is the Second World War. His father had worked for the Germans during the war and went to prison for three years afterwards. As the war spanned most of Mulisch's formative phase, it had a defining influence on his life and work. In 1963, he wrote a non-fiction work about the Eichmann case: Criminal Case 40/61. Major works set against the backdrop of the Second World War are De Aanslag, Het stenen bruidsbed, and Siegfried.

Mulisch often incorporated ancient legends or myths in his writings, drawing on Greek mythology, Jewish mysticism, well known urban legends and politics.

In 1984 he delivered the Huizinga Lecture in Leiden, The Netherlands, under the title: Het Ene.

Mulisch passed away at the age of 83 in Amsterdam, Netherlands on October, 30, 2010. His death occurred at his Amsterdam home and his family was with him at the time. Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte described his death as "a loss for Dutch literature and the Netherlands". Culture minister Halbe Zijlstra bemoaned the demise of the "Big Three" as Gerard Reve and Willem Frederik Hermans had already died. Marlise Simons of The New York Times said his "gift for writing with clarity about moral and philosophical themes made him an enormously influential figure in the Netherlands and earned him recognition abroad". The L Magazine's Mark Ashe quoted the American editions of his novels by referring to him as "Holland's Greatest Author" and "Holland's most important postwar writer".

H.T. Webster

Harold Tucker Webster was born in 1885 in Parkersburg, West Virginia. He started his comics drawing career when he was twenty years old by getting published in an outdoor magazine called Recreation. Then he got a job as a sports cartoonist at the Denver Post. Not much later, Webster did some freelance work for the Chicago News, followed by jobs at the Chicago Inter-Ocean and the Cincinnati Post, where he got to draw political cartoons.

In 1912, Webster landed a prestigious job at the New York Tribune, where he created two of his most famous comics, 'Poker Portraits' and 'Life's Darkest Moment'. After a short stint at the New York World, where he created 'The Man in the Brown Derby', he made his comics comeback at the Tribune, creating his best-known comic, 'Timid Soul'. Harold Webster kept working on the Timid Soul Sunday comic until his death in 1953.

10 November, 2008

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was an author most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes, which are generally considered a major innovation in the field of crime fiction, and for the adventures of Professor Challenger. He was a prolific writer whose other works include science fiction stories, historical novels, plays and romances, poetry, and non-fiction.

Arthur Conan Doyle was born on 22 May 1859, in Edinburgh, Scotland, to an English father of Irish descent, Charles Altamont Doyle, and an Irish mother, née Mary Foley, who had married in 1855. Although he is now referred to as "Conan Doyle", the origin of this compound surname is uncertain. Conan Doyle's father was a chronic alcoholic, and was the only member of his family, who apart from fathering a brilliant son, never accomplished anything of note. Conan Doyle was sent to the Roman Catholic Jesuit preparatory school Hodder Place, Stonyhurst, at the age of eight. He then went on to Stonyhurst College, but by the time he left the school in 1875, he had rejected Christianity to become an agnostic.

From 1876 to 1881 he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, including a period working in the town of Aston (now a district of Birmingham). While studying, he also began writing short stories; his first published story appeared in Chambers's Edinburgh Journal before he was 20. Following his term at university, he served as a ship's doctor on a voyage to the West African coast. He completed his doctorate on the subject of tabes dorsalis in 1885.

In 1882, he joined former classmate George Budd as his partner at a medical practice in Plymouth, but their relationship proved difficult, and Conan Doyle soon left to set up an independent practice. Arriving in Portsmouth in June of that year with less than £10 to his name, he set up a medical practice at 1 Bush Villas in Elm Grove, Southsea. The practice was initially not very successful; while waiting for patients, he again began writing stories. His first significant work was A Study in Scarlet, which appeared in Beeton's Christmas Annual for 1887 and featured the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes, who was partially modelled after his former university professor, Joseph Bell. Future short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes were published in the English Strand Magazine. Interestingly, Rudyard Kipling congratulated Conan Doyle on his success, asking "Could this be my old friend, Dr. Joe?" Sherlock Holmes, however, was even more closely modelled after the famous Edgar Allan Poe character, C. Auguste Dupin.

While living in Southsea he played football for an amateur side, Portsmouth Association Football Club, as a goalkeeper. (This club disbanded in 1894 and had no connection with the Portsmouth F.C. of today, which was founded in 1898.) Conan Doyle was also a keen cricketer, and between 1900 and 1907 he played 10 first-class matches for the MCC. His highest score was 43 against London County in 1902. He was an occasional bowler who took just one first-class wicket. Also a keen golfer, Conan Doyle was elected Captain of Crowborough Beacon Golf Club, East Sussex, for the year 1910.

In 1885, he married Louisa (or Louise) Hawkins, known as "Touie", who suffered from tuberculosis and died on 4 July 1906. He married Jean Elizabeth Leckie in 1907, whom he had first met and fallen in love with in 1897 but had maintained a platonic relationship with her out of loyalty to his first wife. Jean died in London on 27 June 1940.

Conan Doyle had five children, two with his first wife (1) Mary Louise (28 January 1889 – 12 June 1976) and (2) Arthur Alleyne Kingsley, known as Kingsley (15 November 1892 – 28 October 1918), and three with his second wife, (3) Denis Percy Stewart (17 March 1909 – 9 March 1955), second husband in 1936 of Georgian Princess Nina Mdivani (circa 1910 – 19 February 1987; former sister-in-law of Barbara Hutton), (4) Adrian Malcolm (1910–1970) and (5) Jean Lena Annette (1912–1997).

In 1890, Conan Doyle studied the eye in Vienna; he moved to London in 1891 to set up a practice as an ophthalmologist. He wrote in his autobiography that not a single patient crossed his door. This gave him more time for writing, and in November 1891 he wrote to his mother: "I think of slaying Holmes... and winding him up for good and all. He takes my mind from better things." His mother responded, saying, "You may do what you deem fit, but the crowds will not take this lightheartedly." In December 1893, he did so in order to dedicate more of his time to more "important" works (his historical novels).

Holmes and Moriarty apparently plunged to their deaths together down a waterfall in the story, "The Final Problem". Public outcry led him to bring the character back; Conan Doyle returned to the story in "The Adventure of the Empty House", with the explanation that only Moriarty had fallen but, since Holmes had other dangerous enemies, he had arranged to be temporarily "dead" also. Holmes ultimately appeared in a total of 56 short stories and four Conan Doyle novels (he has since appeared in many novels and stories by other authors).

Following the Boer War in South Africa at the turn of the 20th century and the condemnation from around the world over the United Kingdom's conduct, Conan Doyle wrote a short pamphlet titled, The War in South Africa: Its Cause and Conduct, which justified the UK's role in the Boer war, and was widely translated.

Conan Doyle believed that it was this pamphlet that resulted in 1902 in his being knighted and appointed Deputy-Lieutenant of Surrey. He also in 1900 wrote the longer book, The Great Boer War. During the early years of the 20th century, Sir Arthur twice ran for Parliament as a Liberal Unionist, once in Edinburgh and once in the Hawick Burghs, but although he received a respectable vote he was not elected.

Conan Doyle was involved in the campaign for the reform of the Congo Free State, led by the journalist E. D. Morel and the diplomat Roger Casement. He wrote The Crime of the Congo in 1909, a long pamphlet in which he denounced the horrors in that country. He became acquainted with Morel and Casement, taking inspiration from them for two of the main characters in the novel, The Lost World (1912).

He broke with both when Morel became one of the leaders of the pacifist movement during the First World War, and when Casement was convicted of treason against the UK during the Easter Rising. Conan Doyle tried, unsuccessfully, to save Casement from the death penalty, arguing that he had been driven mad and was not responsible for his actions.

Conan Doyle was also a fervent advocate of justice, and personally investigated two closed cases, which led to two men being exonerated of the crimes that they were accused of. The first case, in 1906, involved a shy half-British, half-Indian lawyer named George Edalji, who had allegedly penned threatening letters and mutilated animals. Police were set on Edalji's conviction, even though the mutilations continued after their suspect was jailed.

It was partially as a result of this case that the Court of Criminal Appeal was established in 1907, so not only did Conan Doyle help George Edalji, his work helped establish a way to correct other miscarriages of justice. The story of Conan Doyle and Edalji is told in fictional form in Julian Barnes' 2005 novel, Arthur & George.

The second case, that of Oscar Slater, a German Jew and gambling-den operator convicted of bludgeoning an 82-year-old woman in Glasgow in 1908, excited Conan Doyle's curiosity because of inconsistencies in the prosecution case and a general sense that Slater was framed.

After the death of his wife Louisa in 1906, and the death of his son Kingsley, his brother Innes, his two brothers-in-law (one of whom was E W Hornung, the creator of the literary character Raffles), and his two nephews shortly after World War I, Conan Doyle sank into depression. He found solace supporting Spiritualism and its alleged scientific proof of existence beyond the grave.

According to the History Channel program Houdini: Unlocking the Mystery (which briefly explored the friendship between the two), Conan Doyle became involved with Spiritualism after the deaths of his son and his brother. Kingsley Doyle died from pneumonia on 28 October 1918, which he contracted during his convalescence after being seriously wounded during the 1916 Battle of the Somme. Brigadier-General Innes Doyle died in February 1919, also from pneumonia. Sir Arthur became involved with Spiritualism to the extent that he wrote a Professor Challenger novel on the subject, The Land of Mist.

His book, The Coming of the Fairies (1921) shows he was apparently convinced of the veracity of the Cottingley Fairies photographs, which he reproduced in the book, together with theories about the nature and existence of fairies and spirits.

In his The History of Spiritualism (1926) Conan Doyle praised the psychic phenomena and spirit materialisations produced by Eusapia Palladino and Mina "Margery" Crandon.

His work on this topic was one of the reasons that one of his short story collections, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, was banned in the Soviet Union in 1929 for supposed occultism. This ban was later lifted. Russian actor Vasily Livanov later received an Order of the British Empire for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes.

Conan Doyle was friends for a time with the American magician Harry Houdini, who himself became a prominent opponent of the Spiritualist movement in the 1920s following the death of his beloved mother. Although Houdini insisted that Spiritualist mediums employed trickery (and consistently attempted to expose them as frauds), Conan Doyle became convinced that Houdini himself possessed supernatural powers, a view expressed in Conan Doyle's The Edge of the Unknown. Houdini was apparently unable to convince Conan Doyle that his feats were simply magic tricks, leading to a bitter public falling out between the two.

Richard Milner, an American historian of science, has presented a case that Conan Doyle may have been the perpetrator of the Piltdown Man hoax of 1912, creating the counterfeit hominid fossil that fooled the scientific world for over 40 years. Milner says that Conan Doyle had a motive, namely revenge on the scientific establishment for debunking one of his favourite psychics, and that The Lost World contains several encrypted clues regarding his involvement in the hoax.

Conan Doyle was found clutching his chest in the family garden at "Windlesham", Crowborough, on 7 July 1930. He soon died of his heart attack, aged 71, and is buried in the Church Yard at Minstead in the New Forest, Hampshire, England.

Ronald Knox

Ronald Arbuthnott Knox was born in Leicestershire, England into an Anglican family (his father was Edmund Arbuthnott Knox who became bishop of Manchester), and was educated at Eton College and Balliol College, Oxford. In 1910, he became a fellow of Trinity College, Oxford. He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1912, and was appointed chaplain of Trinity, but left in 1917 when he was received as a Roman Catholic. He explained his spiritual journey in two privately printed books, Apologia (1917), and A Spiritual Aeneid (1918). In 1918 he was ordained a Roman Catholic priest; in 1919 he joined the staff of St Edmund's College, Ware, Hertfordshire, remaining there until 1926.

He wrote and broadcast on Christianity and other subjects. While a Roman Catholic chaplain at the University of Oxford (1926-1939) and as domestic prelate to the Pope 1936, he wrote classic detective stories. In 1929 he codified the rules for detective stories into a 'Decalogue' of ten commandments.

Monsignor Knox singlehandedly translated the St. Jerome Latin Vulgate Bible into English. His works on religious themes include: Some Loose Stones (1913), Reunion All Round (1914), The Spiritual Aeneid (1918), The Belief of Catholics (1927), Caliban in Grub Street (1930), Heaven and Charing Cross (1935), Let Dons Delight (1939), and Captive Flames (1940). Monsignor Knox's Roman Catholicism caused his father to cut him out of his will. See Fitzgerald, The Knox Brothers (1977) at p. 261. This did not make much difference to his finances, however, as Knox earned a good income from his detective novels.

An essay in Knox's Essays in Satire (1928), "Studies in the Literature of Sherlock Holmes", was the first of the genre of mock-serious critical writings on Sherlock Holmes and mock-historical studies in which the existence of Holmes, Watson, et al. is assumed. Another of these essays (The Authorship of "In Memoriam") purports to prove that Tennyson's poem was actually written by Queen Victoria. Another satirical essay ("Reunion All Round") mocked the fabled Anglican tolerance in the form of an appeal to the Anglican Church to absorb everyone from Muslims to atheists, and even Catholics after murdering Irish children and banning Irish marriage and reproduction. Knox was led to the Catholic Church by the English writer G. K. Chesterton, before Chesterton himself became a Catholic. When Chesterton was received into Roman Catholic Church, he in turn was influenced by Knox. Knox delivered the homily for Chesterton's Requiem Mass in Westminster Cathedral.

In 1953 he visited the Oxfords in Zanzibar and the Actons in Rhodesia. It was on this trip that he began his translation of the Imitation of Christ and, upon his return to Mells, his translation of Thérèse de Lisieux's Autobiography of a Soul. He also began a work of apologetics intended to reach a wider than the student audience of his Belief of Catholics (1927). But all his activities were curtailed by his sudden and serious illness early in 1957. At the invitation of his old friend, Harold Macmillan, he stayed at 10 Downing Street while in London to consult a specialist. The doctor confirmed the diagnosis of incurable cancer.

He died on August 24, 1957 and his body was brought to Westminster Cathedral. Bishop Craven said the requiem at which Father Martin D'Arcy, a Jesuit, preached the panegyric. Knox was buried in the churchyard of St Andrew's Church, Mells.

09 November, 2008

John Steinbeck

John Ernst Steinbeck III was an American writer. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937. In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories. In 1962 Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley region of California, a culturally diverse place of rich migratory and immigrant history. This upbringing imparted a regionalistic flavor to his writing, giving many of his works a distinct sense of place. Steinbeck moved briefly to New York City, but soon returned home to California to begin his career as a writer. Most of his earlier work dealt with subjects familiar to him from his formative years. An exception was his first novel Cup of Gold which concerns the pirate Henry Morgan, whose adventures had captured Steinbeck's imagination as a child.

In his subsequent novels, Steinbeck found a more authentic voice by drawing upon direct memories of his life in California. Later he used real historical conditions and events in the first half of 20th century America, which he had experienced first-hand as a reporter. Steinbeck often populated his stories with struggling characters; his works examined the lives of the working class and migrant workers during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. His later body of work reflected his wide range of interests, including marine biology, politics, religion, history, and mythology. One of his last published works was Travels with Charley, a travelogue of a road trip he took in 1960 to rediscover America. He died in 1968 in New York of a heart attack and his ashes are interred in Salinas.

Seventeen of his works, including The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Cannery Row (1945), The Pearl (1947), and East of Eden (1952), went on to become Hollywood films (some appeared multiple times, i.e., as remakes), and Steinbeck also achieved success as a Hollywood writer, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Story in 1944 for Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat.

John Ernst Steinbeck was born on February 27, 1902, in Salinas, California. He was of German American and Irish American descent. Johann Adolf Großsteinbeck (i.e. Grosssteinbeck), Steinbeck's grandfather, changed the family name from Großsteinbeck to Steinbeck when he migrated to the United States. The family's farm in Heiligenhaus / Germany is still today named "Großsteinbeck". His father, John Steinbeck, Sr., served as the Monterey County Treasurer while his mother, Olive (Hamilton) Steinbeck, a former school teacher, fostered Steinbeck's love of reading and writing.

At the time of his childhood, he lived in a small Californian town. Though growing larger, more prosperous, and modern, it was still essentially a rough-and-tumble frontier place, set amid some of the world's most fertile land. Steinbeck spent his summers working on nearby ranches and later with migrants on the huge Spreckels ranch. During this time, Steinbeck became aware of the harsher aspects of the migrant life in the region and of the darker side of human nature – material which was to be explored in works such as Of Mice and Men. He also explored the surrounding Salinas Valley, walking across local forests, fields and farms. This material was to provide background for most of his short stories.

Steinbeck graduated from Salinas High School in 1919. He then attended Stanford University intermittently until 1925, eventually leaving without a degree, as he disliked the university lifestyle. From Stanford, he traveled to New York City and held various temporary jobs while pursuing his dream as a writer. However, he was unable to get any of his work published and returned to California where for a time he was resort handyman in Lake Tahoe. John Steinbeck sometimes lived with the people he would be writing about. For example, he went to the Gulf of Mexico and heard about the story which "The Pearl" is based on. Also, he lived and worked with workers at Oklahoma before writing "The Grapes of Wrath".

In California he continued to write. His first novel, Cup of Gold was published in 1929. It is based on the privateer Henry Morgan's life and death. It centers on Morgan's assault and sacking of the city of Panama, sometimes referred to as the 'Cup of Gold', and the woman fairer than the sun reputed to be found there.

After Cup of Gold Steinbeck produced three shorter works between 1931 and 1933: The Pastures of Heaven, published in 1932, consisted of twelve interconnected stories about a valley in Monterey, California, which was discovered by a Spanish corporal while chasing runaway American Indian slaves. In 1933 Steinbeck brought out two works: The Red Pony is a short 100-page, four-chapter story, which recollects memories from Steinbeck's childhood. To a God Unknown follows the life of a homesteader and his family in California, depicting a character with a primal and pagan worship of the land he works. He lived for many years in a cottage in Pacific Grove owned by his father, John Sr., who provided John paper on which to write his manuscripts.

Steinbeck achieved his first critical success with the novel Tortilla Flat (1935), which won the California Commonwealth Club's Gold Medal. The book portrays the adventures of a young group of classless and usually homeless men in Monterey, set in the era after World War I, just before U.S. prohibition. These characters, who are portrayed in ironic comparison to mythologic knights on a quest, reject nearly all of the standard morals of American society in enjoyment of a dissolute life centering around wine, lust, comradery, and petty thievery. The book was made into a film of the same name in 1942, starring Spencer Tracy, Hedy Lamarr, and John Garfield whom was a very good friend of John.

Steinbeck began to write a series of "California novels" and Dust Bowl fiction, set among common people during the Great Depression. These included In Dubious Battle in 1936, Of Mice and Men in 1937, and The Grapes of Wrath in 1939.

Of Mice and Men (1937), his novella about the dreams of a pair of migrant laborers working the California soil, was critically acclaimed.

The stage adaptation of Of Mice and Men was a hit, starring Broderick Crawford as the mentally child-like but physically powerful itinerant farmhand "Lennie," and Wallace Ford as Lennie's companion, "George." However, Steinbeck refused to travel from his home in California to attend any performance of the play during its New York run, telling Kaufman that the play as it existed in his own mind was "perfect" and that anything presented on stage would only be a disappointment. Steinbeck would write two more stage plays (The Moon Is Down and Burning Bright).

Of Mice and Men was rapidly adapted into a 1939 Hollywood film, in which Lon Chaney, Jr. (who had portrayed the role in the Los Angeles production of the play) was cast as Lennie and Burgess Meredith as "George." Steinbeck followed this wave of success with The Grapes of Wrath (1939), based on newspaper articles he had written in San Francisco. The novel would be considered by many to be his finest work. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1940, even as it was made into a notable film directed by John Ford, starring Henry Fonda as Tom Joad, who was nominated for an Academy Award for the part.

The success of The Grapes of Wrath, however, was not free of controversy, as Steinbeck's liberal political views, portrayal of the ugly side of capitalism, and mythical reinterpretation of the historical events of the Dust Bowl migrations led to backlash against the author, especially close to home.[8] In fact, claiming the book was both obscene and misrepresented conditions in the county, the Kern County Board of Supervisors banned the book from the county's public schools and libraries in August 1939. This ban lasted until January 1941.

Of the controversy, Steinbeck wrote, "The vilification of me out here from the large landowners and bankers is pretty bad. The latest is a rumor started by them that the Okies hate me and have threatened to kill me for lying about them. I'm frightened at the rolling might of this damned thing. It is completely out of hand; I mean a kind of hysteria about the book is growing that is not healthy."

The film versions of The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men (by two different movie studios) were in production simultaneously, allowing Steinbeck to spend a full day on the set of The Grapes of Wrath and the next day on the set of Of Mice and Men.

In 1943, after thirteen years of marriage, Steinbeck divorced his first wife, Carol Henning. He married Gwyn Conger that same year, a union which produced Steinbeck's only children, Thomas ("Thom") Myles Steinbeck in 1944 and John Steinbeck IV (Catbird), in 1946. They divorced in 1948. Two years later, Steinbeck married Elaine (Anderson) Scott, the ex-wife of actor Zachary Scott. They would remain married until his death in 1968.

In 1940, Steinbeck's interest in marine biology and his friendship with Ed Ricketts led him to a voyage around the Gulf of California, also known as the "Sea of Cortez," where they collected biological specimens. Steinbeck's narrative portion of the total expedition report (with some philosophical additions by Ricketts) was later published as The Log from the Sea of Cortez, and describes the daily experiences of the trip. The narrative-log plus the full catalog of the marine invertebrates taken, had earlier been published as a naturalist's narrative and biological catalog of the invertebrate life of the Gulf of California. While it remains a classic of an earlier tradition in biological reporting, in 1942 it did not sell well, in part due to failure to find a popular audience.

Ed Ricketts had a tremendous impact on Steinbeck's writing. Not only did he help Steinbeck while he was in the process of writing, but he aided Steinbeck in his social adventures. Steinbeck frequently took small trips with Ricketts along the California coast, to collect the biological specimens which Ricketts sold for a living, and to give Steinbeck a vacation from his writing.

Ricketts' impact on Steinbeck was so great that Steinbeck based his character "Doc" in the novels Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday on Ricketts. Steinbeck's close relationship with Ricketts would end with the coming of the second World War, and as Steinbeck moved away from Salinas, California, to pursue a life away from his wife Carol.

During World War II, Steinbeck served as a war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune. It was at that time he became friends with Will Lang Jr. of Time/Life magazine. During the war, Steinbeck saw action in accompanying some of the commando raids of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.'s Beach Jumpers program, which (among other things) launched small-unit diversion operations against German-held islands in the Mediterranean. As a war correspondent, Steinbeck would certainly have been executed if he had been captured with the automatic weapon which he routinely carried on such missions, but all were successful. These missions would help to earn Fairbanks a number of decorations, but as a civilian, Steinbeck's role in these doings went officially unrecognized. Some of Steinbeck's writings from his correspondence days were collected and made into the novelistic documentary Once There Was A War (1958).

During the war, he continued to work in film, writing Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat (1944), and the film A Medal for Benny (1945), about paisanos from Tortilla Flat going to war. John Steinbeck later requested that his name be removed from the credits of Lifeboat, because he believed the final version of the film had racist undertones.

His novel The Moon is Down (1942), about the Socrates-inspired spirit of resistance in a Nazi-occupied village in northern Europe, was made into a film almost immediately. It was presumed that the unnamed country of the novel was Norway, and in 1945 Steinbeck received the Haakon VII Medal of freedom for his literary contributions to the Norwegian resistance movement.

After the war, he wrote The Pearl (1947), already knowing it would be filmed. The story first appeared in the December 1945 issue of Woman's Home Companion magazine as "The Pearl of the World." It was illustrated by John Alan Maxwell. The novel is an imaginative telling of a story which Steinbeck had heard in La Paz, as related in The Log From the Sea of Cortez, which he described in Chapter 11 as being "so much like a parable that it almost can't be". Steinbeck traveled to Mexico for the filming; on this trip he would be inspired by the story of Emiliano Zapata, and subsequently wrote a film script (Viva Zapata!) directed by Elia Kazan and starring Marlon Brando and Anthony Quinn.

In 1948 Steinbeck again toured the Soviet Union, together with renowned photographer Robert Capa. They visited Moscow, Kiev, Tbilisi, Batumi and the ruined Stalingrad. He wrote a humorous report-book about their experiences, A Russian Journal, which was illustrated with Capa's photos. Avoiding political topics and reporting about the life of simple Soviet peasants and workers, Steinbeck tried to generate more understanding toward people living in the Soviet Union, in a time when anti-Communism was widespread in the U.S. and the danger of war between the two countries was imminent. In the same year he was also elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Following his divorce from Gwyndolyn Conger and the sudden, tragic death of his close friend Ed Ricketts (who perished as a result of his car being hit by a train), Steinbeck wrote one of his most popular novels, East of Eden (1952). This book, which he wrote to give his sons some idea of their heritage, was the book he repeatedly wrote of as his best, and his life's work.

In 1952, Steinbeck appeared as the on-screen narrator of 20th Century Fox's film, O. Henry's Full House. Although Steinbeck later admitted he was uncomfortable before the camera, he provided interesting introductions to several filmed adaptations of short stories by the legendary writer O. Henry. About the same time, Steinbeck recorded readings of several of his short stories for Columbia Records; despite some obvious stiffness, the recordings provide a literal record of Steinbeck's deep, resonant voice.

Following the success of Viva Zapata!, Steinbeck collaborated with Kazan on the theatrical production of East of Eden, James Dean's film debut.

Steinbeck's next to last major work, Travels with Charley (subtitle: In Search of America) is a travelogue of a coast-to-coast road trip he took across the United States in 1960, in a camper truck, with his standard poodle Charley. In the work, Steinbeck misses his lost youth and lost roots, and both criticizes and praises America on many levels. According to Thom Steinbeck, the author's older son, the real reason for the trip was that Steinbeck knew he was dying and wanted to see his country one last time. Thom says he was surprised that his stepmother (Steinbeck's wife) allowed Steinbeck to make the trip, since Steinbeck's heart disease put him at risk of dying without warning at any time.

Steinbeck's last novel, The Winter of Our Discontent, was written in 1961. The book examines moral decline in America through a tragic story. The book reflected Steinbeck's increasing concern over the loss of integrity amongst members of society and the subsequent moral decay; in the book, the protagonist Ethan, like Steinbeck grows discontented both with his own moral decline and of those around him. The book is quite different in tone to Steinbeck's amoral and ecological description of the innocent thievery of the protagonists of his earlier works such as Tortilla Flat and Cannery Row. Like many of Steinbeck's works, his last one was critically savaged. Many reviewers saw the quality and importance of the novel but were again disappointed, as many were still hoping for a work similar to the Grapes of Wrath.

In 1962, Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his “realistic and imaginative writing, combining as it does sympathetic humor and keen social perception.” Privately, he felt he did not deserve the honor. In his acceptance speech, he said:

the writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit—for gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and of emulation. I hold that a writer who does not believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature.

—Steinbeck Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech
In September 1964, Steinbeck was awarded the United States Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

In 1967, at the behest of Newsday magazine, Steinbeck went to Vietnam to report on the war there. Thinking of the Vietnam War as a heroic venture, he was considered a Hawk for his position on that war. His sons both served in Vietnam prior to his death, and Steinbeck visited one son in the battlefield (at one point being allowed to man a machine-gun watch position at night at a firebase, while his son and other members of his platoon slept).

The gravesite of Steinbeck's ashes in Salinas CemeteryOn December 20, 1968 John Steinbeck died in New York City. His death is listed as heart disease or heart attack. An autopsy showed nearly complete occlusion of Steinbeck's main coronary arteries.