When he was almost sixty years old, worried that he might have lost touch with the sights, the sounds and the essence of America's people, Steinbeck took note of his itchy feet and prepared to travel. He was accompanied by his French poodle, Charley, diplomat and watchdog, across the states of America from Maine to California. Moving through the woods and deserts, dirt tracks and highways to large cities and glorious wildernesses, Steinbeck observed - with remarkable honesty and insight, with a humorous and sometimes sceptical eye - America, and the Americans who inhabited it. What he saw was a lonely, generous nation too packed with individuals for single judgements; what he saw made him proud, angry, sympathetic and elated. His vision of how the world was changing still speaks to us prophetically through the decades.
John Steinbeck (1902-68) is remembered as one of the greatest and best-loved American writers of the twentieth century. During the 1930s, his works included The Red Pony, Pastures of Heaven, Tortilla Flat, In Dubious Battle, and Of Mice and Men. The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939, earned him a Pulitzer Prize. In 1962, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.