Although he was a great contributor to American literature, John Steinbeck retreated from fame. This portrait of the author by James Fitzgerald was executed in 1935, the same year that Steinbeck’s first commercially successful novel, Tortilla Flat, was published. Steinbeck claimed to be “scared to death of popularity,” saying “it has ruined everyone I know.” In the 1930s and 1940s, both Steinbeck and Fitzgerald belonged to a loosely organized group of artists, writers, and intellectuals in Monterey, California. Although they often argued violently, both men respected each other’s talent and shied away from public recognition. Steinbeck’s famed novels Of Mice and Men (1937) and The Grapes of Wrath (1939) earned him even more acclaim, and he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962. Fitzgerald expresses Steinbeck’s reclusive personality by casting half of the author’s face in dark shadow.