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Saturday, 17 February, 2001, 17:50 GMT
Steinbeck family had NI links
John Steinbeck was presented with the Nobel Prize in 1962
John Steinbeck was presented with the Nobel Prize in 1962
One of the most famous writers of the 20th century had roots in Northern Ireland, it has been claimed.

Research shows that the family of American author John Steinbeck came from Ballykelly in County Londonderry.

Steinbeck is perhaps best known for Cup of Gold, The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden.

His link with the province has been claimed by the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry which is considering holding a lecture to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Director Sam Burnside said he had been attempting for some time to confirm the award-winning writer's background.

"During a recent visit to the Steinbeck Centre I met Katie Rodger, interim director there," he said.

"She was able to confirm that John Steinbeck's mother Olive was descended from the Hamiltons of Ballykelly," he said.

Honour of work

Steinbeck was born in California in 1902 and died in New York in 1968.

His father John was a country treasurer and his mother, Olive, was a teacher.

Among the many accolades Steinbeck received during his distinguished career was the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1940 and Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

A Centre for Steinbeck studies was established at San Jose University in California in 1971 in honour of his work.

Mr Burnside said the lecture would explore some of the cultural influences on Steinbeck's work.

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