Monday, July 16, 2018

MY LIFE WITH JOHN STEINBECK by Gwyn Steinbeck, NYC Partylife! Xmas 1943


Steinbeck's range of writing was rich and varied.He honed his craft on a number of short stories, which were published in magazines as was the fashion at the time.In this way he built up a following which enabled him to break through as a writer.Surprisingly it was one of his 'little books' that provided his first success Tortilla Flat.His agent thought it was 'trivial':his then publisher turned it down,but Pascal Covici, who became his long time publisher and friend did publish it in 1935: the critics liked it and John Steinbeck was on his way.
NYC Partylife Xmas 1943
Gwyn lore 5, Excerpt from My Life With John Steinbeck
That first Christmas as Mrs. John Steinbeck was a sensational one, day and especially the nights. We were both quite passionate. During this festive holiday season - and Christmas and the New Year is always somehow special in New York with excitement, and snow- we went to one celebration that was out of this world. Mildred Bailey and her husband Red Norvo, the great musician threw a party. What a blast! I shall never forget it, nor, I imagine did anyone who was there. Everybody in show business was there. In the crowd was Humphrey Bogart, Virginia Mayo, Burl Ives, the Robert Ruarks, George and Mimsi Frazier, the great pantomimist Jimmy Savo, and all of Red Norvo's band. Hazel Scott was there, too. She later married Adam Clayton Powell. Perhaps I may have been ahead of the times in those days: we did not care about color, just friendships and talent.
It was a huge party, and every singer, entertainer, and great jazz musicians performed. Mildred had invited a whole gang from Harlem, including the great negro keyman, Eddie Heywood. Mildred was working at Cafe Societt then, so naturally, she got up and sang. That evening was the first time, too, that I met Robert Capa, who was John's partner when they did A Russian Journal. John adored those kinds of parites. If you loved life, music, good friebnds, who wouldn't?

Excerpts from Preface by Jay Parini, Steinbeck biographer on MY LIFE WITH JOHN STEINBECK
John Steinbeck (1902-1968) was, with Hemingway, Faulkner, and Fitzgerald, among the small handful of American literary giants of the twentieth century; the author of such classic novels as OF MICE AND MEN, THE GRAPES OF WRATH, TORTILLA FLAT. CANNERY ROW and EAST OF EDEN. His achievements were recognized with the Pulitzer Prize in 1940 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962, among other awards.
When he accepted the Nobel in Stockholm, he declared with typical eloquence:’ The writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man’s proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit–for gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion, and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright red flags of hope and emulation. I hold that a writer who does not believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication or any membership in literature.’
There is, of course, oftyen a dramatic, even jarring difference between a writer’s art and his life, between what the writer puts on the page and how he conducts himself in human affairs. as a man, like most men, Steinbeck had inconsistencies in character, some of them glaring.He drank too much, often to the point of complete inebriation; he could be thin-skinned and spiteful, hated all forms of criticism and was (in his first two marriages) unfaithful in his relationships. These early marriages failed in part because of ways he behaved, without much consideration for his spouses…..
I found in writing my biography it was impossible to get a good take on Gwyn. Steinbeck had been wildly attracted to her: she was beautiful, tall, and willowy. She had a lot of energy and intelligence, or so I gathered from various accounts. But as she had passed away, it was impossible to know how she felt about her famous husband and what that marriage was really like. Did Steinbeck value her? Did he treat her well? Did they have much in common? Was he a consistent husband, someone she could trust? What sort of effect did she have on his writing life, and why did the quality of his writing often seem to waver in the forties, fifties, and sixties?
…MY LIFE WITH JOHN STEINBECK is a memoir of her marriage to Steinbeck by Gwyn….To a degree, it answers these questions, and it’s a compelling story, with many biographical details, asides, and, anecdotes….Published here for the first time, it’s a genuinely significant literary discovery. Her memoir sheds light on the part of Steinbeck’s life that has been in shadow over half a century. Aa readers will discover, Gwyn’s voice is passionate, radiant and clear, and it tells us a lot about why Steinbeck might have fallen in love with her.



9/6/18! Lawson Publishers Ltd. are pleased to announce
the historic first publication of Gwyn Conger Steinbeck's

MY LIFE WITH JOHN STEINBECK by Gwyn Conger Steinbeck
As told to Douglas Brown.
ISBN: 978-1-9996752-0-2 Paperback, $18.00
978-1-9996752-2-6 e-book, $7.00
978-1-9996752-1-9 Hard cover $25.00
Pages: 272
"... a compelling story, with many biographical details, asides, and anecdotes that make it well worth the price of admission. Published here for the first time, it’s a genuinely significant literary discovery. Her memoir sheds light on the part of Steinbeck's life that has been in shadow over half a century."
Jay Parini, author of John Steinbeck: A Biography
****
20th December is the 50th anniversary of John Steinbeck’s death (1968),No one knows what will be revealed when the records are unsealed at his instruction.
Gwyn's revelations, published 9/6, beat that timing.
Gwyn lore 3- Excerpt MY LIFE WITH JOHN STEINBECK
It was in our house that I almost lost John Junior before he was born. John showed up with some agents. John said, "Take them through the rest of the house." It had been an exhausting day. It seemed as if I had climbed the five flights of stairs up and down a dozen times. I was completely tired out and just did not have any energy left.
"I cannot climb another flight of stairs today," I said smiling. John looked at me as though he would kill me. We were standing on a landing. He swore at me and tried to kick me down the stairs. I fell about five steps. I grabbed the rail as the agents stood with their mouths open.
:Come on," he said, "I'll show you the place." They followed him meekly and I sat on the stairs until they came back down. I was so angry with him but knew that my refusal caused the anger.

GWYN Lore 2, Excerpt from Gwyn Steinbeck’s MY LIFE WITH JOHN STEINBECK
“That evening at Tim Costello’s is a famous part of Carlos Baker’s book, where he described John Hersey, Bob Capa, John Steinbeck and Mrs. Steinbeck. But he does not say which Mrs. Steinbeck. That was the night, too, when Hemingway broke the blackthorn over his head and ordered John O'Hara out.
The way Baker put it is not quite the real story. The blackthorn happened to have belonged to John’s great-grandfather, and John had given it to Tim who was hanging it over the bar. Also contrary to what Baker said, O'Hara did mot leave the place in a huff. He stood outside looking through the window, whimpering like a child. That is the truth, and when John and I left, there was O'Hara, eaving back and forth in the middle of Third Avenue.
‘Let’s do something,” I said to John.
“Oh that poor sonofabitch, that poor sonofabitch,” he said,“he’ll get into a fight, don’t let’s get near him because he’ll want to start a fight.’
We left another merry writer and tottered home. John had yanked me by the arm and said, 'Leave O'Hara alone; and we moved off for home on 51st Street after what had been an eventful dinner at Costello’s. John and Hemingway were quite cordial (the drinks helped.) It had been a fun evening, enhanced not only by the company of great men of words but by our fresh corn on the cob.”

Excerpt
"John was finally allowed to return to the room where I was covered and ready for surgery. "I don't want you to worry," he said."I'm terribly disappointed."
"I;m disappointed in myself," I said.
Then John said, 'I chose you as the woman to bear my children without problems, and here I am, working on a book, working with my editors, and you have complicated my life."
I was sure he loved me, but I did not know what to think. I did not believe he even knew what he was saying. I was wheeled away to have our baby.

***
Excerpt--"John continued to work on Cannery Row, but I knew he was becoming his old restless self once more. As for me, I had the post natal blues and was still ill and very thin. Fortunately, we now had Ms. Diehl, who took over in her most efficient German way. She was so organized that John began to hate her, and even wanted to get rid of her. I did not, and she stayed. John returned to his daily work on Cannery Row, to his routine with his ranch coffee breakfasts and hot baths at the end of the day. He was never much of a domestic man. "I'll always take pride in the fact that I will never learn to pin a diaper," he remarked.


Airbrushed from History
John Steinbeck (1902 -1968), supreme writer and storyteller, led millions, who had never before read fiction, to read his novels and magazine pieces – stories of ordinary characters told in a home-spun way. Despite his critics, Steinbeck’s books still sell in tens of thousands worldwide and his 1962 Nobel Prize was well earned. A critic at the time, on hearing of the $50,000 prize, sniped at Steinbeck saying how long did it take him to earn it? ‘Forty years’, was the gruff, yet succinct reply.
Of his three wives, Carol, Gwyn and Elaine, Gwyn has been totally and perhaps deliberately forgotten. Steinbeck pursued her. She was introduced to him by his childhood friend Max Wagner at just twenty years old. Gwyn was bright and beautiful and taught Steinbeck to enjoy life. It was a relationship doomed to fail, but it lasted eight years.
Age difference, his indifference and the dislike of Gwyn by Steinbeck’s sisters (he was the only boy amongst the siblings) meant their union was ill-advised. Yet she met celebrities like Robert Capa, Ernie Pyle, Burgess Meredith, Charlie Chaplin and Ernest Hemingway, in an alcohol fuelled war and post war era.
Eventually, partying and travel did not compensate for his affairs, unexplained absences, constant restlessness and indifferent, sometimes brutal behaviour toward her and their children. Then there was Steinbeck’s soul mate, Ed Ricketts, who contributed to a relationship that was “a bit crowded”
When Gwyn divorced Steinbeck, he was astounded and spent the rest of his life hating her, even demonising her as Kate, the wicked villainess and brothel owner in East of Eden. Steinbeck could hate with a passion – and did.
Gwyn never remarried and in later life, according to Douglas Brown, suffered from terrible asthma, not eased by her constant smoking and periodic heavy drinking-a legacy of her time with Steinbeck. She died in 1975, aged just fifty-eight. This is a story never before told. Was she treated fairly? Did Steinbeck value her? Was she thwarted in her ambition-a victim of attitudes at that time?
Before her marriage to John Steinbeck, Toby Street, Steinbeck’s long-time friend and lawyer told Gwyn’s mother, known as Big Gwen, ‘Carol was a sweet girl too, but John made her into a monster. If he gets Gwyn, he will make her into a monster too.’ Perhaps he did. Read her memoir, a missing piece of his private life, and make up your own mind.
Bruce Lawson, Publisher
MY LIFE WITH JOHN STEINBECK by Gwyn Conger Steinbeck


"... a compelling  story, with many biographical details, asides, and anecdotes that make it well worth the price of admission. Published here for the first time, it’s a genuinely significant literary discovery. Her memoir sheds light on the part of Steinbeck's life that has been in shadow over half a century."  --Jay Parini, author of John Steinbeck: A Biography


Discovered--GWYN CONGER STEINBECK. New book relates love and adventures of the "forgotten wife," muse to the Nobel Prizewinning author of American classics
MY LIFE WITH JOHN  STEINBECK: by Gwyn Conger Steinbeck The Story of John Steinbeck's Forgotten Wife

Who was Gwyn Conger Steinbeck? Unlike Steinbeck's first and third wives, she's unmentioned in standard editions of  classics, such as The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men.  But that's about to change with the publication of MY LIFE WITH JOHN STEINBECK: by Gwyn Conger Steinbeck, The story of John Steibeck's Forgotten Wife. (Lawson Publishing Ltd. Sept. 6th.). The ms, lost since 1972, was recently discovered in Wales. The book includes her introduction, that of journalist Douglas G. Brown and the acclaimed John Steinbeck biographer, Jay Parini.

The book reveals the missing voice of  Gwyn,  "the forgotten wife," mother of his two sons, during a 6-year marriage that included the tumult of World War 2. When she met Steinbeck in 1939, Gwyn was a professional singer, working for RKO radio and CBS in L.A. She was an independent young woman, lively and radiant in her love for the great man wooing her--14 years her senior. He was impressed by her beauty and magnetic presence.  For women of her era, many of whom had to leave jobs after the war, marriage was considered a woman's true career--love was life. This journal is her story of that adventure, often "on the road" with a restless Steinbeck, criss-crossing continents and making homes. She later wrote:.

"Tremendous love existed between us....Sometimes, love made us better than we were, it does that with everyone. My love for John was such that I had no hesitation in giving up everything I had for him, which I did. That was a mistake. Although out relationship brought happiness, it also brought unhappiness. At one point, I became the Indian woman, walking three paces behind the master."

My Life with John Steinbeck is on target about people and places. A newlywed on 78th St in NYC., Gwyn was alone after John suddenly decided to go to war. But later they enjoyed snowstorms and high society, carousing with the  Robert Benchleys and Burl Ives among others. They moved to Monterey for sojourns with Steinbeck crony Ed Ricketts in his eccentric Lab. There were treks to Mexico, a story of an elegant party at a Russian Embassy, and one about being pregnant and sick by the side of a road.. 

Gwyn says Steinbeck was "in love with love." But for much of their time together, she was completely in love with both the great writer and the flawed man. She gave him complete quiet to work and, when needed, her full attention. The Moon is Down, Cannery Row, The Pearl, The Wayward Bus were written during their years. Gwyn  tried to be the "Amazon" Steinbeck expected; until their sons' births which she linked with the mysterious "death of their love." When she asked for a divorce (finalized 1949) she could  no longer live with him. He may never have forgiven her. Considering the character of Cathy in East of Eden, is said to be modeled on  Gwyn, that may be so.

How often do we hear about the costs of being with a famous man? When is trading up self-abandonment? Gwyn’s story is an enigmatic look at an "Everywoman" of her era, who took marriage as her vocation and  enabled a great man to pursue his work.  Yet the ideology of giving "all" came at a steep price.  I was moved by the pathos of her efforts to make home--not one but many--an attractive place of comfort, if not security. Just as she was putting down roots, her home was gone, lost in another unfathomable whim. 

2018, the 50th anniversary of John Steinbeck’s death (12/20/68), may be the year of the woman. How fitting for Gwyn Steinbeck's journal to be published.  

LAWSON PUBLISHING LTD.
Lawson Publishing LTD is located in Powys, Wales. Publisher Bruce Lawson is pleased with the release of GWYN CONGER STEINBECK: My Life With John Steinbeck in  the U.K. and the United States.

Douglas G. Brown, Editor

Douglas G Brown was a British and American journalist, feature writer and one-time columnist who became editor of the Palm Springs Desert Sun. His brother, John Brown, who inherited the manuscript for My Life with John Steinbeck, decided to publish it with Lawson Publishing Ltd as his late brother’s legacy.

Bruce Lawson, Publisher
Bruce Lawson was born and educated in Kidderminster. After working in Ireland and Jamaica, where he became a rugby international, he returned to the UK to run his own Chartered Accountancy Practice. In 2013 he wrote and published Charles Rolls of Rolls-Royce. Bruce now lives in Montgomeryshire and is the director of Lawson Publishing Ltd. He has made an extensive study of Steinbeck’s early life and worked for two years, bringing My Life with John Steinbeck to publication..

S.W.

Gwyn Lore.

GWYN LORE--Recounted by Jeffrey Archer
Jeffrey Archer (now Lord Archer) wrote Cain and Abel, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less and many other thrillers, wrote in a short story about a journey where Kelley, a student at Stanford, hitches a ride with an elderly gentleman. She talks of her ambition to write the Great American Novel and how Hemingway, Steinbeck, Bellow and Faulkner are the “modern giants of American literature."
Driving his pre-war Studebaker, the old man urges her to “get as much experience of the world and people as you can before you sit down and put pen to paper." He refers to Ed and his first wife Carol who “lasted thirteen years before she was replaced by Gwyn who managed just five. But to do her justice, which is quite difficult, she gave me two great sons.”
Continuing, the driver went on “when I got home (from being a war correspondent) I discovered my wife (Gwyn) had shacked up with some other feller. Can’t say I blame her."
He continued “soon after, I married Elaine. I can only tell you one thing, I know for sure, Kelley, three wives are more than enough for any man.”
At the end of the journey, the elderly driver brought the car to a stuttering halt, outside Stanford College gates.
“Thank you for the lift, John,” said Kelley as she got out of the car. She walked quickly round to the driver’s side to say goodbye to the old man as he wound down the window. “It’s been fascinating to hear about your life.”
Taken from Tell Tale by Jeffrey Archer, 2017 ISBN: 978-1-4472-5230-6
Bruce Lawson--Publisher of MY LIFE WITH JOHN STEINBECK


Doug Brown info

Douglas G Brown 1939-1997


Douglas Brown was born and educated in Enfield near London in England.  After receiving a degree in journalism from the University of London, he joined the Royal Air Force and was eventually assigned as Secretary to the Consul General of the British Embassy in Washington DC.
  In 1960, he decided to try his luck in Hollywood.  Taking the train west, he interrupted his journey to see Palm Springs.  Thirty- seven years later he was still enthralled with the magic of that desert oasis and became a dedicated promotor of the resort.  As both editor of the Palm Springs Desert Post and as a feature writer and columnist he covered the entertainment and social scene for the Desert Sun, the Key Magazine and Beverley Hills Courier. Doug Brown was also Art Editor for the popular Sand to Sea magazine.  He authored two books and headlined his own radio show, as well as establishing his public relations firm. His many clients and friends held Doug in high esteem, appreciated his charisma, energy, personal warmth and unique European charm.  He was a gentleman’s gentleman who sadly died far too young.
One friend quoted of him “Whenever one met Doug Brown, one’s day became a little brighter…”
He said he met Gwyn Steinbeck in the early seventies, when she ran a small art gallery and lived in a modest, two-bedroom house in Palm Springs, California. She had many mementoes of her time and travels with her then husband John Steinbeck, but following his death in 1968, Gwyn lived modestly, as Brown understood it, on a low fixed income.
She related her story, both the early promise and later tragedy, describing it as ‘but a fragment of John’s life.’
The result is a memoir that delivers a unique and controversial portrait of the great American writer, John Steinbeck. Lost since 1972, and recently discovered in Wales, My Life with John Steinbeck allows Gwyn Steinbeck - John Steinbeck’s second wife and the mother of his two children – to tell her story for the first time in 46 years. It is the compelling story of a woman’s love for a man hailed by the world for his literary genius. A man who, in Gwyn’s own words, “was not a hero. He was only a tremendously complex man who could be very beautiful one moment and then change into something very un-beautiful.”

Bruce Lawson