American novelist. California, his native state, formed the background for his early short stories and novels. Tortilla Flat (1935) was his first success, and he confirmed his growing reputation with two novels about landless rural workers, In Dubious Battle (1936) and Of Mice and Men (1937), the story of two itinerant farm labourers, one of huge strength and weak mind, exploited and protected by the other. His best‐known work, The Grapes of Wrath (1939), is an epic account of the efforts of an emigrant farming family from the dust bowl of the West to reach the ‘promised land’ of California. Among his later novels are East of Eden (1952), a family saga, and The Winter of our Discontent (1961). He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962.