Mitchell vs. Steinbeck


Ruth Comfort Mitchell

Ruth Comfort Mitchell

 

“Ruth Comfort Mitchell and John Steinbeck shared a magnificent view of the Santa Clara Valley from their mountain homes six miles apart…Similarities in perspective end there” 

                        -Susan Shillinglaw, National Steinbeck Center

Through research, documents, photos, ephemera and interviews Mitchell vs. Steinbeck will look at the historical events that inspired John Steinbeck to write The Grapes of Wrath, and the controversy, and literary duel with a neighboring Los Gatos novelist, Ruth Comfort Mitchell, through her book Of Human Kindness.

In 1936, John and Carol Steinbeck moved from Pacific Grove to a house on Greenwood Lane in Los Gatos. It was here that the prolific writer wrote one of the most influential novels in American history, The Grapes of Wrath. Despite its success, the novel would prove to be so controversial it was banned and burned in cities across the country. In response, other authors attempted to tell the other side of dust bowl migrant story from the rancher’s perspective. 

One such author, Ruth Comfort Mitchell lived only six miles from the Steinbeck’s home in Los Gatos. Mitchell, who was married to Senator Sanborn Young and publicly spoke on behalf of conservative causes, rebutted The Grapes of Wrath with her own novel: Of Human Kindness. 

Through research, documents, photos, ephemera and interviews Mitchell vs. Steinbeck will look at the historical events that inspired Steinbeck to write The Grapes of Wrath, the controversy, legacy, and literary duel with a neighboring novelist in the town of Los Gatos.