The idea for To a God Unknown was borrowed from the plot line of a play written by Webster Street, Steinbeck's close friend at Stanford University. The initial draft was begun in the fall and winter of 1928 and originally had the same title as Street's play: The Green Lady. However, after writing over 100 pages, Steinbeck abandoned the project and decided to approach it on his own and not to list his friend as the co-author.

Later however, after composing some short stories, he returned to the project in December of the same year, making significant changes in both the character names and the location of the setting. The manuscript, now titled To The Unknown (later an Unknown) God, …

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Meyer, Michael J.. "To a God Unknown". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 04 December 2009
[, accessed 28 September 2016.]