John Steinbeck travel book was 'loaded with creative fictions'

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The 1962 book, subtitled In Search of America, finds the ageing author of The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men attempting to recapture his youth and survey the state of the nation for a final time.

But serious doubts about the veracity of Steinbeck's story have now been raised. A writer who retraced the author's steps claims to have discovered a string of inaccuracies, half-truths and fabricated events.

Nights that Steinbeck supposedly endured in his truck were in fact spent in luxurious hotels, including one so fancy that the author had to borrow a jacket for dinner, claims the writer, Bill Steigerwald.

Far from leading a primal journey of man and dog, Steinbeck was "almost never alone", Steigerwald says. For 45 days of his 75-day trip, he was even accompanied by his loving wife, Elaine.

In addition to following Steinbeck's supposed 10,000-mile itinerary in a 4X4 – in which he really did sleep – Steigerwald examined the author's archives and scoured local newspaper reports from the time.

His research calls into question an evening Steinbeck claimed to have spent at a campsite near Alice, a tiny town in North Dakota, with a Shakespearean actor who spoke at length about Sir John Gielgud....

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