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Steinbeck letters, memorabilia on sale in February in N.J.

January 29, 2020 GMT
FILE - In this Dec. 13, 1962, file photo, author John Steinbeck, with his wife Elaine arrive at London Airport. Curated Estates in Lincoln Park, N.J. is offering Steinbeck items for auction, including dozens of letters that Elaine wrote from their world travels. The items will be sold on Feb. 27. (AP Photo/File)
FILE - In this Dec. 13, 1962, file photo, author John Steinbeck, with his wife Elaine arrive at London Airport. Curated Estates in Lincoln Park, N.J. is offering Steinbeck items for auction, including dozens of letters that Elaine wrote from their world travels. The items will be sold on Feb. 27. (AP Photo/File)

LINCOLN PARK, N.J. (AP) — The Steinbeck Collection, an upcoming sale at a New Jersey auction house, might as well be called ``Travels with Elaine.″

Curated Estates in Lincoln Park is offering a trove of materials on Feb. 27 that have been sitting in a Manhattan warehouse for about two decades. They include dozens of letters that John Steinbeck’s wife, Elaine, wrote home from their world travels.

Steinbeck, author of ``The Grapes of Wrath″ and ``East of Eden″ among other works, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature, died in 1968. Elaine Steinbeck, his third wife, died in 2003. She was an actress and Broadway stage manager, and a prodigious writer of letters home.

There are dozens of long missives in her careful hand, describing the couple’s trips to Africa and Spain in 1952, to Sweden to receive the Nobel Prize in 1962, and to the White House in 1964 to stay with Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson. She reports that her husband had been called in to work on LBJ’s acceptance speech for the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City. “But that is confidential,” she writes. “That is something you just don’t talk about.”

The sale also includes intriguing odds and ends from the lives of both Steinbecks: the Presidential Medal of Freedom that Johnson awarded him, a small medallion she received from Richard Rodgers for her work on ``Oklahoma!,″ a hummingbird made of colorful thread wrapped around a stick. Steinbeck said he got the hummingbird from a witch doctor, and wrote that it holds “just about all the magic there is in the world.” There’s also a lock of his baby hair.

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