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Steinbeck’s letter to his son about love, “the best thing”, on sale

A tender and touching letter that author John Steinbeck wrote to his teenage son, offering fatherly advice after the young man confided he was in love for the first time, is going up for auction.

Boston-based RR Auction says the handwritten draft of a letter to his eldest son Thomas – then 14 – shows the ‘Of Mice and Men’ author’s empathy: he refused to consider it puppy love.

“While this letter offers intimate and private insight into Steinbeck’s family life, it also expresses his ideas about love with depth and eloquence,” said Bobby Livingston, executive vice president of the auction house. .

In the two-page letter, dated November 10, 1958, the Nobel Prize laureate in literature told his son: “If you’re in love, that’s a good thing, that’s pretty much the best thing that can happen to someone. Don’t let anyone make things small or light for you.”

Steinbeck, who won a Pulitzer for “The Grapes of Wrath” in 1940 and the Nobel Prize in 1962 for an acclaimed body of work, showed he was no stranger to matters of the heart.

“The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it,” he wrote. “If you love someone – there is no harm in saying so – only you have to remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying has to take this shyness into consideration.”

“Girls have a way of knowing or feeling how you feel, but they usually like to hear it too,” he said. “Sometimes what you feel isn’t returned for one reason or another – but that doesn’t make your feeling any less valuable and good.”

“If it’s good, it happens – The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good escapes,” the California-born novelist wrote, simply signing his letter: “Love, Father.”

John Steinbeck died in 1968 and Thomas Steinbeck died in 2016.

The text of the letter has been published worldwide, including in “Steinbeck: A Life in Letters” in 1989 by Penguin Books.

Legal wrangling over his estate has dragged on for decades. In 2020, the United States Supreme Court upheld a decision awarding Steinbeck’s daughter-in-law $5 million in a family dispute over abandoned film projects of some of Steinbeck’s best-known works.

Thomas Steinbeck, a writer in his own right, fiercely defended his father’s work, adapting several of his father’s books for films and initiating legal efforts to protect the copyrights of his father and others.

This story was originally published October 5, 2022 8:25 a.m.