Long Lost Steinbeck Short Story Published in The Strand Magazine

Posted on November 7, 2014

The Strand holiday 2014 issue

A short story by John Steinbeck which has never been in print will be published today. The story of a black aviator in World War II was read on the air during a radio broadcast by Orson Welles in 1944, but was lost after that.

The Guardian reports that the story is called "With Your Wings." Andrew F. Gulli, who is the managing editor of the The Strand Magazine made the incredible find while looking through archives stores at the University of Texas at Austin. Gulli found a transcript of the radio broadcast and was shocked when he realized it was an unknown short story by Steinbeck.

The story is about a black pilot who fought in World War II and his return home to a small town at a time when segregation was the norm. Black Americans made major contributions to the war effort which only recently have been memorialized in film and print. But in 1944 such a story would have been quite ahead of its time.

In an interview with The Takeaway today, Gulli discussed the racial politics of the 1940s and how the short story fits within that context. Gulli discusses how black soldiers were not allowed to eat or worship with white soldiers due to segregation policies which Steinbeck believed needed to be changed. Gulli explains, "Steinbeck, I think, was trying to give a very powerful message...this might have been a faint cry to say that perhaps the U.S. Army and a lot of states should have passed laws to treat these people better."

The story was published today in the holiday issue of the quarterly mystery magazine, which hits newsstands today.

Photo: The Strand