John Steinbeck ALS about Purchasing a Land Rover

Signed by John Steinbeck

Item: 17112
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STEINBECK, JOHN. (1902-1968). American author of The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men; winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize for Literature. ALS. (“John”). 2pp. Folio. New York, March 1, 1965. To HOWARD GOSSAGE (1917-1969), advertising executive known as the “Socrates of San Francisco.”

“I have a couple of questions I’d like to ask you because you are the only person I knew to ask. Last fall, I sold my Ford Falcon. It was a cheap car and it never let you down on its cheapness. This spring, almost immediately, I have to buy a new car. Since Elaine will drive it mostly, she wants a heavier car than those so called economy cars. Now you drove a Rover across the country, and that’s a good test of any car. How was it – smooth? comfortable? fast? maneuverable? quiet? dependable? I’m asking you not as one having the Rover account but as having driven it. How expensive was it? To buy – to operate? I don’t want to ask Jimmy. It would sound like a hustle and it’s not. They have already given me what amounts to a permanent loan of a Land Rover. The theory is, I guess, that me driving it and talking and writing about it might sell others. I doubt whether I have even helped to move a single Land Rover. I love the thing and pretty soon, when I can afford it, I’m going to buy it. But we are going to have a car for the highway. You know the pitch. There’s a man in this building, Ford distributor who offers me any kind of Ford product at cost. He, too I guess, thinks that is good public relations. But I’m lousy at that. Besides, I would like to know about the Rover, which should be a well built car. Do you have any specifications etc. – models? H.P.? engines, brakes, etc. I would like your honest, non involved opinion. What American car would you compare the Rover with? I wish you’d let me know these things at your earliest because the time is on us for going to the country. I expect Elaine home the middle of the week. Her old aunt died two nights ago. Now the baked meats etc before she can leave and in Texas they have baked meats, four kinds. I’m working like a dog on my new book and have the next growing fast in my head. With any kind of break I hope to get a lot done this year. Also I’d like to know how your funny campaign went. Will you please let me know these things right away?

John Steinbeck

A native of California, Steinbeck used his first-hand knowledge of ranch and farm work to portray America’s 20th-century migrant workers, farmers and other downtrodden groups. His Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, The Grapes of Wrath, recounts the Joad family’s struggle for survival when they are uprooted from their farm during the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression. Steinbeck continued to write fiction mixed with social commentary, including Cannery Row, East of Eden and The Winter of Our Discontent.

Gossage was a groundbreaking advertising executive who co-founded the Freeman, Mander and Gossage agency, which counted among its clients Petrofina Oil Co., the Sierra Club, Qantas Airways, and Rover. The agency’s home, a firehouse, was a hub of intellectualism frequented by futurist Buckminster Fuller and authors Tom Wolfe and John Steinbeck. For several years, Gossage had been corresponding with Steinbeck, soliciting feedback about his advertising campaign for the Land Rover, the topic of our letter.

In 1962, Steinbeck published Travels with Charley: In Search of America, which chronicles his 1960 tour across America with his poodle. The new book on which Steinbeck was working at the time of our letter was likely America and Americans, a collection of Steinbeck’s journalistic works, published in 1966. He died two years later but a number of additional works were published posthumously.

Elaine Anderson Steinbeck (1914-2003), an actress and theater manager, became Steinbeck’s third wife on December 28, 1950, and the two remained married until his death. Written in pencil on the rectos of two sheets of lined yellow legal paper with his New York City return address label affixed to the upper left corner of the first sheet. Some minor creasing; otherwise in fine condition.

John Steinbeck ALS about Purchasing a Land Rover

Signed by John Steinbeck

$1500 • item #17112

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