Lot 43
  • 43

Steinbeck, John

20,000 - 30,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • ink and paper
The Grapes of Wrath. New York: The Viking Press, 1939

8vo. Publisher’s pictorial beige textured cloth, endpapers printing the music and lyrics of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”. Original illustrated dust-jacket with minor edge-wear and a small chip at spine head.  In a quarter-morocco slipcase.


Goldstone-Payne A12.a

Catalogue Note

A presentation copy of the first edition of steinbeck’s pulitzer prize novel.  Inscribed with a cryptic quatrain in English and Spanish: “For Rena and Peeley / Too mucha they try to ingesta / Of a mule that had died / of the glanders inside / Now to do familiar no está. / John Steinbeck.”  (“Glanders” is a contagious disease in horses, characterized by swelling beneath the jaw and a runny nose).

Remarkably, Steinbeck wrote this 200,000 word book in only six months; within as short a time it became a runaway bestseller: 430,000 copies were sold the first year, and the book went through 19 printings between 1939 and 1963. With The Grapes of Wrath, one of the century’s most popular and influential novels, Steinbeck called attention to the disastrous situation of oppressed migrant workers through the story of the Joad family and their struggle for survival in California.

Harriet “Rena” Bromley Jackson, who acquired her nickname as a more pleasing alternative to “Harriet” in high school, was a very close friend of Steinbeck’s older sister, Beth, at Salinas High School—Rena was class president, Beth, vice-president—where Steinbeck would later matriculate.  Bromley, also with literary aspirations, co-authored the class will in El Gabilan, the school quarterly to which she contributed a prose piece in 1912: “The Awakening”; Beth contributed a poem, “Sweet Brier.”  Bromley’s husband, Leland “Peeley” Jackson, a dentist in San Jose, went to USC where he got his nickname, a less appealing one than his wife’s (his friends called him “Peeley” for the condition of his nose).  During World War II, Rena and Peeley took as a ward an English lady, Shirley Heaton Vollmer, to whom Rena gave the inscribed Grapes of Wrath.  The couple also shared with her two Steinbeck reminiscences: on one occasion, the drunken writer competed with his similarly inebriated buddies to see who among them could urinate over a railroad car; on another, he and his band of merry-makers moved a horse into an upstairs bedroom, doubtless uninvited.