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Upton Sinclair

Upton Sinclair Upton Sinclair[1†]

Upton Beall Sinclair Jr. (September 20, 1878 – November 25, 1968) was an American writer, muckraker, political activist, and the 1934 Democratic Party nominee for governor of California[1†]. He wrote nearly 100 books and other works in several genres[1†][2†]. Sinclair’s work was well known and popular in the first half of the 20th century, and he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1943[1†][2†].

Early Years and Education

Upton Beale Sinclair Jr. was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 20, 1878[4†]. He was the only child of Upton Beall Sinclair and Priscilla Harden[4†]. His father worked at different times selling liquor, hats, and men’s clothes[4†]. He also struggled with poverty and a drinking problem[4†].

Young Upton was a shy, thoughtful boy who taught himself to read at age five[4†]. The family moved to New York City when Upton was ten[4†][5†]. At fourteen, he entered the City College of New York[4†][5†]. He graduated in 1897[4†][6†] and went to Columbia University to study law, but instead became more interested in politics and literature[4†]. He never earned a law degree[4†].

Through these years, he supported himself by writing for adventure-story magazines[4†]. While attending Columbia, he wrote eight thousand words a day[4†]. He also continued to read a great deal—over one two-week Christmas break, he read all of William Shakespeare’s works as well as all of John Milton’s poetry[4†].

Career Development and Achievements

Upton Sinclair was a prolific American novelist and polemicist for socialism, health, temperance, free speech, and worker rights, among other causes[3†]. He wrote nearly 100 books and other works in several genres[3†][1†][2†]. Sinclair’s work was well known and popular in the first half of the 20th century[3†][1†][2†].

In 1906, Sinclair acquired particular fame for his classic muck-raking novel, The Jungle[3†][1†]. This novel exposed labor and sanitary conditions in the U.S. meatpacking industry, causing a public uproar that contributed in part to the passage a few months later of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act[3†][1†].

In 1919, he published The Brass Check, a muck-raking exposé of American journalism that publicized the issue of yellow journalism and the limitations of the “free press” in the United States[3†][1†]. Four years after the publication of The Brass Check, the first code of ethics for journalists was created[3†][1†].

Sinclair was an outspoken socialist and ran unsuccessfully for Congress as a nominee from the Socialist Party[3†][1†]. He was also the Democratic Party nominee for governor of California in 1934[3†][1†].

Many of his novels can be read as historical works. Writing during the Progressive Era, Sinclair describes the world of the industrialized United States from both the working man’s and the industrialist’s points of view[3†][1†]. Novels such as King Coal (1917), The Coal War (published posthumously), Oil! (1927), and The Flivver King (1937) describe the working conditions of the coal, oil, and auto industries at the time[3†][1†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Upton Sinclair was a prolific writer, having written nearly 100 books and other works in several genres[1†]. Here are some of his most notable works:

Each of these works not only tells a compelling story but also sheds light on the social and economic conditions of the time. Sinclair’s works are often seen as historical documents that provide insight into the industrialized United States from both the working man’s and the industrialist’s points of view[1†].

Analysis and Evaluation

Upton Sinclair was a prodigy as a writer and wrote with great fluency and consequent unevenness[8†]. For him, the essential purpose of literature was to expose social evils and promote change; his end as a writer was the improvement of the condition of humankind[8†]. His career, which spanned more than six decades, was unified in one respect, however, for both his fiction and his nonfiction were devoted to a single aim—the achievement of social justice[8†][9†]. Everything he wrote was written primarily as a means to attain the end he sought, betterment of the conditions of life for all people[8†][9†].

Sinclair’s works are often seen as historical documents that provide insight into the industrialized United States from both the working man’s and the industrialist’s points of view[8†][9†]. His classic muckraking novel The Jungle (1906) is a landmark among naturalistic proletarian work[8†][3†]. This novel exposed labor and sanitary conditions in the U.S. meatpacking industry, causing a public uproar that contributed in part to the passage a few months later of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act[8†][9†].

Sinclair’s work was well known and popular in the first half of the 20th century, and he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1943[8†]. His works not only tell compelling stories but also shed light on the social and economic conditions of the time[8†][9†].

Personal Life

Upton Sinclair was born on September 20th, 1878, in Baltimore, Maryland, and later moved to New York City[10†]. He lived much of his life in Pasadena, California, then in Buckeye, Arizona[10†]. Near the end of his life, he moved to Bound Brook, New Jersey[10†].

Sinclair was married three times. His first marriage was to Meta Fuller in 1900, which ended in divorce in 1911[10†][4†]. The autobiographical novel Love’s Pilgrimage (1911) treats his marriage and the birth of his child with an honesty that shocked some reviewers[10†][4†]. He then married Mary Craig Kimbrough in 1913[10†][1†]. After her death in 1961, he married Mary Elizabeth Willis[10†][1†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Upton Sinclair’s legacy is one of promoting social justice and public policy changes as a direct result of his published works[11†]. His classic muckraking novel, The Jungle, is a landmark among naturalistic proletarian work[11†][3†]. This novel exposed labor and sanitary conditions in the U.S. meatpacking industry, causing a public uproar that contributed in part to the passage a few months later of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act[11†][1†].

Sinclair was also passionate about health and nutrition, advocated fasting, and embraced a raw foods diet[11†]. His work was well known and popular in the first half of the 20th century, and he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1943[11†][1†].

Many of his novels can be read as historical works. Writing during the Progressive Era, Sinclair describes the world of the industrialized United States from both the working man’s and the industrialist’s points of view[11†][1†]. His works such as King Coal (1917), The Coal War (published posthumously), Oil! (1927), and The Flivver King (1937) describe the working conditions of the coal, oil, and auto industries at the time[11†][1†].

Sinclair’s work continues to be relevant today, as it sheds light on the struggles of the working class and the need for social reform. His dedication to exposing the truth and advocating for change has left a lasting impact on American literature and society.

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Wikipedia (English) - Upton Sinclair [website] - link
  2. Wikiwand - Upton Sinclair - Wikiwand [website] - link
  3. Britannica - Upton Sinclair: American novelist [website] - link
  4. Encyclopedia of World Biography - Upton Sinclair Biography [website] - link
  5. Constitutional Law Reporter - Great American Biographies - Upton Sinclair [website] - link
  6. Annenberg Learner - Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) [website] - link
  7. Wise-Answer - Who was Upton Sinclair and why was he important? [website] - link
  8. eNotes - Upton Sinclair Long Fiction Analysis [website] - link
  9. eNotes - Upton Sinclair Analysis [website] - link
  10. New World Encyclopedia - Upton Sinclair [website] - link
  11. American Literature - Upton Sinclair [website] - link
  12. LibreTexts Humanities - 3.6: Biography: Upton Sinclair [website] - link
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