A collection of letters, manuscripts, diaries and personal objects by the American writer John Steinbeck (1902-1968), Nobel Prize winner for literature in 1962, author of famous novels such as “Furore”, will be auctioned on 25 October at Bonhams in New York. «The moon has set» and «Eden valley».
The material comes from the family of the novelist’s younger sister, Mary Steinbeck Dekker. The auction catalog includes a fragment of the original draft of «Of Mice and Men», half eaten by Steinbeck’s dog, Toby, a wrought iron Arthurian sword and a manuscript written in English given by the writer to his sister Mary. The gift was made between 1956 and 1959, when Steinbeck was busy with his King Arthur project. The manuscript sought to right a childhood wrong: Steinbeck’s inability to fully recognize her sister’s courage and grant her a “knighthood.”
Other highlights of the auction include: a vast archive of correspondence between Steinbeck and his sister Mary Steinbeck Dekker and other family members, discussing personal and professional affairs over the decades, estimated at $250,000 to $350,000; the original manuscript of Steinbeck’s first novel, “Cup of Gold,” with extensive marginal notes from an unknown reader providing feedback and minor corrections made by the Nobel Prize winner; Steinbeck’s personal diary from 1949, estimated at $20,000 to $30,000, describing his despair over the loss of his best friend, Ed Ricketts, the end of his marriage to second wife Gwen, who took their two young children, and the long journey back to writing, culminating in meeting Elaine Scott in May.
Also on sale is a previously unknown Steinbeck diary from February-March 1938, estimated at $10,000-15,000, which offers a glimpse into the creation of «Furore». Finally, Steinbeck’s diary from 1947, which contains contemporary descriptions of his travels through Russia and Ukraine with the photographer Robert Capa, and which was used as raw material for his memoir “A Russian Journal” (1947) , estimated at 30,000-50,000 dollars. Most of John Steinbeck’s manuscripts and family letters are preserved by institutions such as Stanford University, the Morgan Library in New York and the University of California.