Steinbeck in Somerset

BRUTON Festival of  Arts, from 2nd to 27th May, marks the 60th anniversary of American novelist John Steinbeck’s stay in the area.

Steinbeck, chronicler of the Great Depression and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962, came to Bruton to research and write a modern translation of the Morte d’Arthur, written by Thomas Malory in the 15th century.

Steinbeck, who was already famous for his novels Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, moved to Discove, a beautiful old farmhouse outside Bruton, from where he visited all the West Country sites associated with Arthur – including Cadbury Castle in South Somerset and Tintagel in Cornwall.

Although he struggled with his translations, he fell in love with Bruton and on his deathbed declared that it was the place where he had been the happiest in his whole life.

The final event at At the Chapel, Bruton’s bar, restaurant, bakery and arts venue, is on Thursday 16th May at 7pm, is Woody Guthrie: Hard Times and Hard Travellin’ with Will Kaufman. Kaufman sets the songs of Steinbeck’s friend Woody Guthrie in the context of the American 1930s– the Dust Bowl, the Depression, and the New Deal, the dramatic events of the 1930s  which inspired Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath.

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