1939 August 18

“The Grapes of Wrath” Banned in Kansas City, Kansas


The Board of Education in Kansas City, Kansas, ordered John Steinbeck’s classic novel The Grapes of Wrath removed from 20 public libraries on this day. The novel presents a grim, realistic picture of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. This attack on the novel in Kansas City was one of many attempts to ban the novel across the country.  The public library in East St. Louis, Illinois, ordered The Grapes of Wrath burned on November 15, 1939, but soon rescinded the decision.

Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 (see his acceptance speech below). Four other Steinbeck novels have been banned or challenged over the years. The most heavily banned or challenged has been Of Mice and Men, including 29 times in the 1990s alone.

Read the famous novel: John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (1939)

See the Movie: The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

Learn more: Rick Wartzman, Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath (2000)

Read the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill/

Watch John Steinbeck’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SKEODtaQUU

Learn more at the Steinbeck Center: http://www.steinbeck.org/

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