Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Read by Vincent Gibbs

A dramatic reading John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" performed by Vincent Gibbs, English teacher and Drama Club director for many years at Robert E. Peary High School, Rockville, MD. Each year, Mr. Gibbs spent a full week reading this story to his 11th grade English students. I heard it in 1972/73 and it was quite magical to come in each morning and listen to Mr. Gibbs amazing vocal characterizations. These MP3 recordings were made from a tape recording that Mr. Gibbs made in the late 1990s. Scroll down to see a letter that I wrote to Mr. Gibbs when I first heard these recordings a few years ago.

Addendum (30 March 2011): Since posting these files in 2006, I've received numerous emails from teachers all over the country - and beyond - who are using these recordings in their classes: Here's are some comments from those letters:

From Georgia: I just wanted to thank you for posting the recording of Mr. Gibbs reading Of Mice and Men and making it available to others. I am a high school English teacher in Savannah, GA, and have had my students listening to Mr. Gibbs’s rendition of this incredible story. The recording has even given me a new appreciation for the book. My students are identifying with the characters, and seem to be sincerely engaged in the plights of George and Lennie. The voices and Mr. Gibbs’s storytelling makes it so real for them! I’m wondering how they’ll react when Lennie doesn’t make it. They seem to have grown a bit attached.

From Michigan: I recently discovered the audio files you posted of your former English teacher reading Of Mice and Men. WOW, they are great. I, as well as some of my colleagues appreciate the opportunity to share them in our own classes. My students thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Gibbs reading of the book. He does a far superior job to what I can do.

From Sheffield, UK: Thank you so much for providing this audio resource. I am a VI (Visual Impairment) Technician and a request came in for this today... All I can say is 'Thank You' it must have been great to have an English teacher like Mr Gibbs. Love his pace and interpretation...Outstanding!

How to download the recording

First try downloading these zip files. Make sure to save to your Desktop so you can find them afterwards. After downloading, be sure to completely unzip the archive and delete the zip file.

Individual Chapter files in a folder (49MB)

Single Audio file with all chapters (49MB)

You can also try downloading the original MP3 files directly. Normally, when you click on a link to an MP3 file, the recording will start playing within your browser. To download the file instead, right-click (Windows) or Control-click (Mac) and select "Download linked file" (or something similar). Select your Desktop to save to and then click Save.

Chapter 1 (33:10, 7.6MB, Mono MP3)

Chapter 2 (40:38, 9.4MB, Mono MP3)

Chapter 3 (53:57, 12.4MB, Mono MP3)

Chapter 4 (36:58, 8.5MB, Mono MP3)

Chapter 5 & 6 (52:16, 12.0MB, Mono MP3)

All Chapters in one large file (3.5 hours, 50.7MB)

These files are playable on any MP3 capable music player such as an iPod or in software such as iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc. In order to keep the files small, I've made them to be "Podcast" quality rather than music quality.

For additional information on Peary High School, see Bob Lau's excellent Midnight Sun Online website.

Vincent Gibbs - from the 1972 Polaris Yearbook
(Note the many autographed movie studio glossies on the wall. There were dozens of these around the classroom.)

By the way, if you know of a Community Music or Arts Center, Crafts Center or Nature Center, that needs excellent database management software, please encourage them to check out my StudioSchool Pro application, built specifically for community schools of the arts.

Will Loving, Amherst, MA
(aka Bill McNaughten, Class of 1974)

 

Dear Mr. Gibbs,

I want to express my thanks to you for taking the time to make the recording of "Of Mice and Men", which I recently had the pleasure of listening to. I was alerted to the fact that the recording existed by Freda Curchack (Marver) and have since passed it on to Liz Loftus (Singer), all of us from the Peary class of 1974. From the moment Lenny says, "I like beans with ketchup", I was transported back to that unexpected and fascinating week in which you read the story. I was mesmerized listening to the tape, not just because it was a window to my past, but because your interpretation of the characters and their voices is so compelling.

Hearing the story again also made me wonder how classroom discussions of the issues raised in it would differ today. How would students, parents and administrators today respond to the issues of morality, racism and sexism? Does anyone have the courage to tackle such issues in classrooms these days by reading a book like this?

While I expect that you do not remember me - I was not what you would call an outstanding English student - your English and Humanities classes, your direction of the Drama Club plays, your wall of B&W glossies, and your after school movie showings did make a deep impression on me. Though I struggled with writing, I did take in the paper writing concepts and frameworks you presented and they formed the basis for later writing that I did. I very clearly recall your standard example of a introductory sentence, "Lenny and George were depraved, deprived and depressed." You said it so often that it became quite humorous. Though I struggled with and never really came to appreciate Faulkner (and I suspect I'm not alone in that!), I did enjoy Steinbeck and went on to read other Steinbeck books during and after high school.

The Humanities class and after school films introduced me to forms of art and a broader range of cultural experience than I likely otherwise would have had. I recall specifically two instances, one watching Garbo in Queen Christina, and the other watching Fontein and Nureyev, in Romeo & Juliet, when you stopped the projector and replayed the same scene several times for us to take in and appreciate what was happening... Garbo's languid pose, Margot Fontein's arm drifting down. You helped us appreciate these things by showing us the things you appreciated and taking the time to look closely at them.

My three years at Peary were a very difficult time in my life. I was wrestling with depression, struggling with an abusive mother and alcoholic father and generally feeling quite numb. And, English and writing were particularly difficult for me! I did, however, learn a great deal from you and benefited from my participation in your classes and other activities, including and most especially the Drama club presentations of "Long Day's Journey Into Night" and "The Little Foxes". I particularly recall the post-performance sessions with you and the rest of the cast and crew. It was a peculiar and precious (to us) moment there when you let down the normal teacher/student formality a bit more than usual to discuss how it had gone that night.

So, all of this is to simply say, "Thank you". You did what teachers hope to do, make an impression, make a difference. You were not afraid to be yourself as a teacher and as an individual, and that in itself is an inspiration. You shared what you loved and cared about and it got passed on to many of us who sat in your classroom.

Sincerely,

Will Loving (known at Peary as "Bill McNaughten")
Amherst, MA