I am so glad you asked! John was born in nearby Salinas in 1902 in his parent’s home at 132 Central Avenue. His father built a summer cottage at 147 11th St, Pacific Grove in 1903. As a child, John spent weekends and holidays there exploring the sea. Steinbeck lived with his parents in the Salinas home until he took off for the greener pastures of Stanford University in 1919.
John returned here with wife, Carol Henning, and moved into the house on 11th Street in 1930. John and Carol left Pacific Grove in 1936. He wrote many of his famous books here, including Tortilla Flat, The Red Pony, In Dubious Battle and To a God Unknown. He even began one of his most famous – Of Mice and Men – here on 11th St.
Elizabeth Hamilton, Steinbeck’s grandmother, bought the house at 222 Central in 1914. She lived there until her death in 1918. Carol’s sister, Idell, and brother-in-law, Paul rented the house. Steinbeck helped Paul build a small workroom there in 1936.
What did he write on in those days before word processors and computers? Well, we found that he journeyed up the hill to the then Holman’s Department Store and purchased the ledger and even the ink to pen the beginnings of Pastures of Heaven and to a God Unknown. How fortunate he was to have such a grand store so close by!
He left in 1936 but returned to Pacific Grove in 1941 and moved into the house at 425 Eardley and began the Sea of Cortez. The house was mentioned both in Steinbeck: A Life in Letters and, also, in With Steinbeck in the Sea of Cortez: A Memoir of the Steinbeck/Ricketts Expedition.
We found he spent much of his time in his sister’s home in the pine forest near Asilomar. Known today as the Esther Steinbeck Rogers House, it is guest lodging owned by Asilomar. He may have written part Sea of Cortez when there.
Another sister, Elizabeth Steinbeck Ainsworth, is buried in the El Carmelo Cemetery here in Pacific Grove.
John left the house at 425 Eardley (and California) in 1943. In September 1948, after the divorce from Gwyn Conger he returned to Pacific Grove and in November 1949, he moved to New York City and Elaine Scott, and apparently, after that, never returned here for any significant time.