American icon John Steinbeck, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and Pulitzer Prize, having authored such classics as Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden, died at age 66 in 1968. Even a mind as creative as his likely couldn’t have envisioned a fight over his property continuing to rage more than 40 years after he died.
When he died, much of John Steinbeck estate passed to his third wife, Elaine (whom he married in 1950). He did not specifically include the literary rights to his works, so they passed under the residual clause in Steinbeck’s will, to Elaine. Elaine, in turn, died in 2003. She left those rights and other property to her family members, excluding Steinbeck’s children. This included her husband’s summer home in upstate New York, which passed to her sister, Jean Boone.
The New York Times recently wrote an interesting article about the lawsuit by the children against Boone and others, which sought to reclaim the house and