Belfast Telegraph

Writer's journey 'home' recalled John Steinbeck went on a pilgrimage to Limavady

By Donna Deeney

Nobel prize-winning author John Steinbeck will be celebrated in Limavady during November in recognition of his connection with the area.

The acclaimed author’s maternal grandfather, Samuel Hamilton, hailed from Mulkeraugh in Ballykelly. Fascinated by his Irish roots, Steinbeck visited the area in 1952, documenting his trip for an article I Go Back To Ireland.

His famous novel East Of Eden was published in the same year and the major character of Samuel Hamilton was inspired by and based upon his Ballykelly-born grandfather.

East Of Eden was later adapted as a film released in 1955 and starred James Dean in his first movie role.

Among a series of events scheduled for the Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre in Limavady is a film screening by the Roe Valley Community Film Society of Gary Sinise’s 1992 adaptation of Of Mice And Men, Steinbeck’s seminal novel published in 1937.

Desima Connolly, Arts & Cultural Services Officer, said: “We felt we had to celebrate this connection and it also offers us the perfect opportunity to promote literature and creative writing on a local level. We intend to expand on this theme over forthcoming years.”

Shortly after his arrival in the Co Derry village, Steinbeck penned a letter to his friend Pascal Covici, saying: “We're on a hunt for the seat of the Hamiltons. The place they are supposed to have lived is not on any map no matter how large scaled but we have found a taxi driver who thinks he knows where it is and tomorrow we start out to try to find it.

“It should be a very interesting experience.

“I can't imagine any of them are still alive since the last I heard of them was 15 years ago and they were then two old, old ladies and an old, old gentleman and none of them had been married.”

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