Monterey County Writers

Monterey County has inspired writers for years. John Steinbeck is probably the most famous native son, but poet Robinson Jeffers built a home in Carmel, and Henry Miller lived in Big Sur. Ed Ricketts wrote his classic treatise Between Pacific Tides after studying the shoreline creatures along Monterey's coast. Even Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson spent some time here.

Edward F. Ricketts

While Ed Ricketts is known to many readers solely as the model for "Doc" in Steinbeck's Cannery Row, he was an author as well as a revolutionary marine biologist. His great study of coastal creatures and plants, Between Pacific Tides, presented the concept of marine ecology decades before it became common; it is still required reading in many biology courses. His modest laboratory still stands on Cannery Row, unmarked on the outside, unchanged in many ways on the inside (it's the little gray building almost next door to the Aquarium, and it's rarely open to the public). At Drake and Wave streets, a bronze memorial honors him, close to the spot where he was killed in a train accident in the 1940s. Each day, Doc's anonymous admirers place flowers in the hands of the statue.

John Steinbeck

Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck was born and raised in Salinas. His novels East of Eden and Cannery Row are among the stories that depict Monterey County.

The National Steinbeck Center Museum in Salinas is a tribute to the life and work of Steinbeck. The interactive museum brings his stories to life, and gives visitors a full sensory experience as they walk in the author's footsteps. Recently the museum expanded, adding a wing dedicated to the history of the agricultural industry in the Salinas Valley. It is now a perfect marriage of John Steinbeck's writing and the history of the Salinas Valley's "green gold."

A few blocks away, volunteer docents at The Steinbeck House serve up gracious prix fixe luncheons daily at the author's boyhood home. Reservations are required for lunch, but browsing the gift shop is free.

You'll find a bronze bust of John Steinbeck in Cannery Row's Steinbeck Plaza, at Cannery Row and Prescott Avenue in Monterey. Live music is often played at this historic site that once bustled with sardine factory workers, and became the setting for one of John Steinbeck's most colorful novels, Cannery Row. The nearby Spirit of Steinbeck Monterey Wax Museum recreates scenes from California's past, including scenes from Steinbeck's novels. Open 9am-9pm daily.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson followed his heart to Monterey in August 1879, in pursuit of Fanny Osbourne. (They later married in San Francisco.) Stevenson visited various sites in Monterey, writing about them in his essay "The Old Pacific Capital." Literary detectives surmise that Point Lobos may have been the setting of Treasure Island. He lived for awhile in a boarding house once called French's Hotel; it's now known as the Robert Louis Stevenson House, part of the Path of History Tour. The oldest part of the house dates from the 1830s. Most of the rooms are currently closed for renovations, but a collection of memorabilia is on display on the ground floor. Walk in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson with a guided tour with California Legacy Tours

Robinson Jeffers

Robinson Jeffers and his wife, Una, purchased land on Carmel Point after their twin sons were born. Built from granite boulders, the fascinating Tor House and Hawk Tower sheltered Jeffers as he composed some of his finest poems. Jeffers appeared on the cover of Life in 1932, after the sturdy cottage had already hosted many celebrities in its cozy interior. It's now a National Historic Landmark. Docent-led tours begin hourly Fridays and Saturdays, 10am-3pm; groups are limited to six people (no children under 12, and no photography).

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