John Ernst Steinbeck Jr. was an American writer and the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature winner “for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humor and keen social perception. He has been called “a giant of American letters” and is acknowledged to be one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century.

Presented here is a collection of BBC Radio dramatisations of six of Steinbeck’s best known works, together with readings of three of his novellas.

East of Eden – An epic tale exploring the nature of good and evil, inspired by the story of Cain and Abel. Cathy Ames is a young woman who has always filled her parents with a deep sense of unease. Adam and Charles Trask are brothers whose relationship veers dangerously between love and hate. Their lives are about to collide in a dark and febrile drama about familial love.

Of Mice & Men – Dramatisation of John Steinbeck’s seminal 1937 novel about migrant workers in 1930s California whose dream of one day owning a place of their own is tragically destroyed.

The Grapes of Wrath – The Joads are a poor family of tenant farmers driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, agricultural industry changes, and bank foreclosures. Due to their nearly hopeless situation, and in part because they are trapped in the Dust Bowl, the Joads set out for California along with thousands of other “Okies” seeking jobs, land, dignity, and a future.

The Pearl – A captivating and atmospheric parable set in a small Mexican fishing village about the greatest pearl ever found and the tragic impact its discovery has on one young family.

Steinbeck in Avalon – As a child, John Steinbeck was enthralled by Malory’s account of the life of King Arthur. In 1959, the great novelist went to live in Somerset for a while to write what he hoped would be the crowning glory of his distinguished career, a 20th-century restatement of the Arthurian legend.

Lifeboat – July 1943: Connie Porter is a glamorous foreign correspondent aboard a lifeboat alone in the middle of the Atlantic, after the freighter ship SS Argo was torpedoed by a Nazi submarine. She soon rescues John Kovak from the ship’s engine room and sparks fly between the couple as they pick up other survivors – including a Nazi seaman from the enemy U-boat.

The Murder – An American farmer, Jim Moore marries an eastern European woman Jelka, but the gulf between their cultures proves too great and they begin to drift apart. One night in the bar, Jim encounters a neighbor who mentions that he found dead cattle in the corner of Moore’s property that had been clearly killed by human hands…

The Chrysanthemums – Elisa Allen, the wife of a rancher in Salinas Valley is proud of her ability to cultivate the biggest chrysanthemums in the whole valley. Elisa’s husband, Henry, has negotiated the sale of some cattle and has left to fetch the animals ready for sale. Then, a travelling tinker shows up…

The Red Pony – Young Jody Tiflin lives on his father’s California ranch. He is thrilled when one day his father gives him a red pony and promises him the colt of a bay mare. Both these gifts bring joy to Jody’s life – but tragedy soon follows. As Jody begins to learn the harsh lessons of life and death, he starts to understand what growing up and becoming an adult really means.