You would think that all of John Steinbeck’s short stories would have been anthologized or collected at some point, no? After all, he was a major author of the 20th Century, a master of the short story, and one of only a handful of Americans to have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
But not all of his commercially published stories were collected — until 1986. Steinbeck died in 1968.
The following list of his stories were orphans until 1986 — The Gifts of Iban, His Father, The Summer Before, How Edith McGillcuddy Met R. L. Stevenson, Reunion at the Quiet Hotel, The Miracle of Tepayac, and The Time the Wolves Ate the Vice-Principal.
Luckily for us, a Tokyo publisher by the name of Nan’un-do Co., Ltd. gathered these stories for publication.
Uncollected Stories of John Steinbeck was published as a softcover with a dust jacket, edited by a Japanese Steinbeck scholar named Kiyoshi Nakayama. The dust jacket features a picture of a very young John Steinbeck aboard his red pony with his sister, Mary. The book is illustrated with photos and includes Japanese notations, although all of the stories are presented in English. Nakayama also provides commentary.
As noted in Nakayama’s preface, The Summer Before and Reunion at the Quiet Hotel were published in Great Britain, but were never published in the United States.
The Gifts of Iban was Steinbeck first commercial sale of any kind, but it was published under the pseudonym of John Stern, according to Steinbeck’s former Stanford University roommate and life-long friend, Carlton A. Sheffield. The story appears in the March 1927 issue of “The Smoker’s Companion,” in its Vol. 1, No. 1 issue. According to Sheffield, Steinbeck was paid between $10 and $20 for the story.
His Father, based somewhat on Steinbeck’s own history as the divorced father of two sons, was published in the September 1949 issue of “Reader’s Digest.” “Collier’s published The Miracle of Tepayac in its Dec. 25, 1948 issue. The Time the Wolves Ate the Vice-Principal was published in the March 1947 issue of “47 The Magazine of the Year” in its Vol. 1, No. 1 issue. It is another example of a Steinbeck story that shows how groups acting as a whole behave differently than individuals.
How Edith McGillcuddy Met R. L. Stevenson met a better fate. While it too went uncollected, it was published in book form by Cleveland’s then-prestigious Rowfant Club in 1943 as a hardcover, one of only 152 copies, with a green glassine dust jacket. Edith Wagner, nee McGillcuddy, was the mother of Max and Jack Wagner, boyhood friends of Steinbeck. She had told Steinbeck this story of how she met Robert Louis Stevenson in Monterey when she was just a child. Steinbeck made it his own story. It was first published in the August 1941 issue of “Harper’s Magazine.”