After the Steinbeck’s returned from their ten-month journey abroad with his two sons, they turned on the TV for more news on the Cuban Missile Crises when they heard instead from the new reporter that John Steinbeck had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. This was in October of 1962.
Back in 1956 Steinbeck had written about the potential of winning the prize:
I should be scared to death to receive it, I don’t care how coveted it is. But I can’t say that because I have not received it. But it has seemed to me that the receivers never do a good nor courageous piece of work afterwards. It kind of retires them. I don’t know whether this is because their work was over anyway or because they try to live up to the prize and lose their daring or what.
But now his time had come, and he was a mix of emotions, calling it a monster that he must handle, a kind of fantasy and excited at the thought of traveling to accept it. He worried over writing his acceptance speech and re-wrote it several times. He also made meticulous plans about who would attend the award ceremony with him, what he would wear and how he did not want any alcoholic beverages so he would be in his best form. He responded to countless letters of congratulations including one from Princess Grace of Monaco and many friends and acquaintances from around the world.