Of Mice and Men (First Edition) by John Steinbeck
Of Mice and Men is a novella by John Steinbeck (1902-1968). The first edition of this work was published in 1937 by Covici Friede, New York.
Steinbeck drew on his own experiences as a ‘bindlestiff’, a migrant worker carrying his belongings wrapped in cloth and tied around a stick.
The title of the story is taken from Robert Burns’s poem To a Mouse.
The book was censored for vulgar and offensive language, and possibly also due to a guilt-fuelled dislike of its shocking presentation of the treatment and suffering of migrant workers during the Great Depression.
Plot, Characters, Themes
The novella is set in California, and revolves around two migrant ranch workers during the Great Depression, the intelligent and quick-witted George, and the large statured and mentally disabled Lennie, whom George protects. They are travelling across California, hoping to find some land to own. They find work on a ranch where difficult situations with their superiors arise, but their dream of land seems closer to reality. Everything goes wrong through misunderstanding and mistreatment of the mentally disabled Lennie, and George has to kill his friend.
American author John Steinbeck wrote 27 books, and won many awards. He was renowned for his Dust Bowl realist fiction.
Notable auction sales and collecting tips
First edition copies of Of Mice and Men (1937, Covici Friede, New York) are worth much more when they retain their original bindings and dust jackets, the jacket designed by Ross MacDonald. It is not recommended to restore or rebind them.
There was more than one printing of the first edition, so whether a copy is first edition first issue, or a later issue, can make a difference to the price.
First editions of the novella were sold by Bloomsbury Auctions for £3,200 in June 2009, by Bonhams for $6,500 in February 2007, by Christie’s for $3,600 in December 2005, $4,000 in December 2007, and $5,760 in June 2005, and by Sothebys for $7,200 in November 2004.
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