Cup of Gold

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Cup of Gold
First edition cover
AuthorJohn Steinbeck
CountryUnited States
PublisherRobert M. McBride & Co.
Publication date

Cup of Gold: A Life of Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer, with Occasional Reference to History (1929) was John Steinbeck's first novel, a work of historical fiction based loosely on the life and death of 17th-century privateer Henry Morgan. It centres on Morgan's assault and sacking of Panama City (the "Cup of Gold"), and the woman (La Santa Roja, or the Red Saint) he seeks there, reputed to be fairer than the sun.[1][2]


The novel begins with young Henry on a Welsh farm, listening to Dafydd, an old farm hand who became a pirate and returned to tell of his adventures. The old farm hand tells Old Robert (with Henry listening) his colorful tales of the Caribbean, then leaves by morning. Those stories encourage Henry to leave home to seek his fortune. Henry becomes a famous pirate captain with two goals: to capture Panama from the Spanish, and to win the heart of the Red Saint (La Santa Roja). When Morgan captures Panama, the Red Saint is waiting inside the city. The city is easily taken, but the Red Saint puts up a fight. After Morgan and his crew raids the city, they leave with riches and no Red Saint. Morgan ends his career as a pirate and is knighted by the English King, who places Morgan in charge of disciplining other pirates.[3]

Release details[edit]

  • 1929, Robert McBride & Co. (First edition) 1537 copies sold, yellow cloth binding
  • 1936, Covici-Friede (Second edition) Maroon cloth binding (939 copies)
  • 1938, Viking Press
  • 1976, Penguin Books
  • 2008, Penguin Books, introduction by Susan F. Beegel, ISBN 978-0143039457pp


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-26. Retrieved 2014-07-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^
  3. ^ Warren G. French. Steinbeck’s Fiction Revisited. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1994. Twayne’s United States Authors Series 638. Twayne’s Authors on GVRL. Retrieved 2015-04-15.