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Sinclair, Upton Beall

SINCLAIR, UPTON BEALL

Upton Beall Sinclair was a famous American writer and essayist whose book The Jungle, an exposé of Chicago's meatpacking industry, shocked the nation and led to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906.

Sinclair was born September 20, 1878, to a prominent but financially troubled family in Baltimore, Maryland. Sinclair's father was a liquor salesman who was also an alcoholic. His mother, a teetotaler, came from a wealthy background. In 1888, the Sinclair family moved to New York. Sinclair's father sold hats but spent his earnings on alcohol. Sinclair, who became a teetotaler like his mother, moved between two different financial worlds—the relative life of poverty with his father and mother and the affluence he experienced when visiting his mother's well-to-do parents. He later stated that experiencing the two extremes helped make him a socialist.

Sinclair began to write "dime novels" (books of pulp fiction that sold for 10 cents) when he was a teenager. At age 14, he attended New York City College, financing his education by writing for newspapers and magazines. In 1897, Sinclair enrolled at Columbia University. He continued to write prodigiously, a habit that became lifelong. By the time he died, Sinclair had published close to one hundred books.

In 1901, Sinclair released his first book, Springtime and Harvest, later republished as King Midas. Around the same time, he became involved in the socialist movement. He was an avid reader of socialist classics and Appeal to Reason, a socialist-populist journal. Socialists maintain that inequalities in the distribution of wealth are best solved by either direct state ownership of key industries or through regulation of private business. In 1905, Sinclair joined with authors Jack London and Florence Kelley and labor attorney clarence darrow to establish the Intercollegiate Socialist Society.

During this period Sinclair also became interested in the works of such investigative journalists as Lincoln Steffens and Ida Tarbell, who publicly exposed corruption in U.S. government and industry. This type of investigative reporting came to be known as "muckraking," thanks in part to Sinclair. In 1904, the editor of Appeal to Reason commissioned him to write a novel about the immigrants who worked in the meat packing industry. After seven weeks of research, Sinclair produced his sixth book, The Jungle, a novel about a young Lithuanian immigrant who finds work in the stockyards of Chicago. Sinclair's frank portrayal of the unsanitary and miserable working conditions of those who labored in the meat packing industry, was serialized in 1905 where it began to create a furor.

"I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach."
—Upton Sinclair

Unable to find a publisher for his book, Sinclair, after six rejections, published the novel himself. He took out an ad in Appeal to Reason, and received 972 advance orders. When the publisher Doubleday heard the numbers, the company took on the book. The Jungle was published

in 1906 and immediately sold over 150,000 copies. Over the next few years the book was translated into 17 languages and became an international best-seller.

Horrified at the description of the filthy conditions in which the meat packers worked, and even more dismayed at the offal and other repellant ingredients that were part of the meats they were consuming, the American public demanded immediate and widespread reform. President theodore roosevelt met with Sinclair at the White House and launched an investigation into the practices of the meat packing industry. Although the beef industry and other producers of consumable products, including pharmaceutical companies, had vigorously fought federal regulation of their industries, Sinclair's revelations helped turn the tide.

Bowing to the swelling chorus of public indignation, Congress passed the pure food and drug act of 1906, which prohibited foreign and interstate commerce in adulterated or fraudulently labeled food and drugs. Under the new law, such products could be seized and destroyed and offenders faced fines and prison sentences. Congress also passed the Meat Inspection Act of 1906, which attempted to regulate the inspection of the slaughtering and processing of animals sold for human consumption.

Sinclair put his newfound wealth into a cooperative living experiment he established in Englewood, New Jersey. When a fire destroyed the commune in 1907, Sinclair was financially unable to rebuild it. He followed The Jungle with a number of other muckraking novels, including King Coal (1917), Oil! (1927), and Boston (1928). None, however, achieved the same popularity.

Sinclair eventually moved to California where he became actively involved in politics. He ran unsuccessfully for public office on the Socialist ticket and organized a socialist reform movement known as End Poverty in California (EPIC). In 1934, he ran for governor of California on the Democratic ticket, but was defeated by Republican incumbent Frank Merriam.

Sinclair returned to writing in the 1940s, producing his famous Lanny Budd series, which is composed of 11 novels that deal with American politics from about 1913 until 1953. The third book in the series, Dragon's Teeth (1942), recounts the rise of Nazism. It received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1943, the only major literary award given to Sinclair.

In the 1950s, Sinclair moved to Arizona with his second wife, Mary Craig Kimbrough, for health reasons. When Craig died in 1961, the two had been married almost 50 years. Sinclair remarried at the age of 83. He spent his later years writing and occasionally lecturing. In 1962, he released his autobiography. In 1967, a year before his death, Sinclair was invited to the White House by President lyndon johnson to witness the signing of the Wholesome Meat Act of 1967, which expanded the earlier meat inspection act of 1906. In 1968, the socialist crusader, who proved that one man can bring about reform, died in his sleep on November 25, 1968, in Bound Brook, New Jersey.

further readings

Ivan, Scott. 1996. Upton Sinclair: The Forgotten Socialist. Lanham, Md.: Univ. Press of America.

Mitchell, Greg. 1991. Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair's E.P.I.C. Race for Governor of California. New York: Random House.

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Sinclair, Upton

Upton Sinclair

Born: September 20, 1878
Baltimore, Maryland
Died: November 25, 1968
Bound Brook, New Jersey

American writer

Upton Sinclair, American novelist and political writer, was one of the most important muckrakers (writers who search out and reveal improper conduct in politics and business) of the 1900s. His novel The Jungle helped improve working conditions in the meat-packing industry.

Early life and education

Upton Beale Sinclair Jr. was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 20, 1878. He was the only child of Upton Beall Sinclair and Priscilla Harden. His father worked at different times selling liquor, hats, and men's clothes. He also struggled with poverty and a drinking problem. Young Upton was a shy, thoughtful boy who taught himself to read at age five. The family moved to New York City when Upton was ten, and at fourteen he entered New York City College. He graduated in 1897 and went to Columbia University to study law, but instead became more interested in politics and literature. He never earned a law degree. Through these years he supported himself by writing for adventure-story magazines. While attending Columbia he wrote eight thousand words a day. He also continued to read a great dealover one two-week Christmas break he read all of William Shakespeare's (15641616) works as well as all of John Milton's (16081674) poetry.

Becomes involved in politics

Sinclair moved to Quebec, Canada, in 1900. That same year he married Meta Fuller, with whom he had a son. His first novel, Springtime and Harvest (1901), was a modest success. Three more novels in the next four years failed to provide even a bare living. Sinclair became a member of the Socialist Party in 1902, and he was a Socialist candidate for Congress from New Jersey in 1906. (Socialists believe in a system in which there is no private property and all people own the means of production, such as factories and farms, as a group.)

Also in 1906 Sinclair's The Jungle, a novel exposing unfair labor practices and unsanitary conditions in the meat-packing factories of Chicago, Illinois, was a huge success. Sinclair had spent seven weeks observing the operations of a meat-packing plant before writing the book. The Jungle 's protest about the problems of laborers and the socialist solutions it proposed caused a public outcry. President Theodore Roosevelt (18581919) invited Sinclair to discuss packing-house conditions, and a congressional investigation led to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act.

Documents personal life

Sinclair divorced his first wife in 1913. The autobiographical (based on his own life) novel Love's Pilgrimage (1911) treats his marriage and the birth of his child with an honesty that shocked some reviewers. Sinclair married Mary Craig Kimbrough in 1913. Sylvia and Sylvia's Marriage, a massive two-part story, called for sexual enlightenment (freedom from ignorance and misinformation).

King Coal (1917), based on a coal strike of 1914 and 1915, returned to labor protest and socialistic comment. However, in 1917 Sinclair left the Socialist Party to support President Woodrow Wilson (18561924). He returned to the socialist camp when Wilson supported intervention in the Soviet Union. In California Sinclair ran on the Socialist ticket for Congress (1920), for the Senate (1922), and for governor (1926 and 1930).

Continues stirring things up

Sinclair continued his writings on political and reform issues. Oil! (1927) dealt with dishonesty in President Warren G. Harding's (18651923) administration. Boston (1928), a novel about the Sacco-Vanzetti case (in which two Italian men, believed by many to have been innocent, were convicted and executed for having committed a murder during a payroll robbery), brought to light much new material and demonstrated the constructive research that always lay beneath Sinclair's protest writings.

In 1933 Sinclair was persuaded to campaign seriously for governor of California. He called his program "End Poverty in California." His sensible presentation of Socialist ideas won him the Democratic nomination, but millions of dollars and a campaign based on lies and fear defeated him in the election.

World's End (1940) launched Sinclair's eleven-volume novel series that attempted to give an insider's view of the U.S. government between 1913 and 1949. One of the novels, Dragon's Teeth (1942), a study of the rise of Nazism (a German political movement of the 1930s whose followers scorned democracy and favored the destruction of all "inferior" non-Germans, especially Jewish people), won the Pulitzer Prize. Before his death on November 25, 1968, Sinclair had produced more than ninety books that earned at least $1 million, most of it contributed to socialist and reform causes.

For More Information

Harris, Leon A. Upton Sinclair, American Rebel. New York: Crowell, 1975.

Scott, Ivan. Upton Sinclair: The Forgotten Socialist. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1996.

Sinclair, Upton. Autobiography. New York: Harcourt, Brace, & World, 1962.

Sinclair, Upton. My Lifetime in Letters. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1960.

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Upton Beale Sinclair Jr

Upton Beale Sinclair Jr.

Upton Beale Sinclair, Jr. (1878-1968), American novelist and political writer, was one of the most influential muckraking writers of the 1900s. He continued to write and speak for reform for many years.

Upton Sinclair was born in Baltimore, Md., on Sept. 20, 1878. His father, struggling against poverty and liquor, moved the family to New York City when Upton was 10. At 14 Upton entered the College of the City of New York. He graduated in 1897 and went to Columbia University to study law. Through these years he supported himself by writing for adventure-story magazines.

Sinclair moved to Quebec in 1900. His first novel, Springtime and Harvest (1901), was a modest success. Three more novels in the next 4 years failed to provide even a bare living. In 1906, however, The Jungle, exposing unfair labor practices and unsanitary conditions in the packing houses of Chicago, scored a huge success. The novel's protest about the lot of laborers and the socialist solutions it proposed did not have much immediate effect, but its exposé caused a public outcry. President Theodore Roosevelt invited Sinclair to discuss packing-house conditions, and a congressional investigation led to passage of the Pure Food and Drug Law.

Sinclair divorced his first wife in 1912. The autobiographical novel Love's Pilgrimage (1911) treats his marriage and the birth of his child with a frankness which shocked some reviewers. He married Mary Craig in 1913. Sylvia and Sylvia's Marriage, a massive two-part story, called for sexual enlightenment. King Coal (1917), based on a coal strike of 1914-1915, returned to labor protest and socialistic polemic. Oil! (1927) dealt with dishonesty in Warren G. Harding's administration. Boston (1928), a novel about the Sacco-Vanzetti case, unearthed much new material and demonstrated the constructive research that always lay beneath Sinclair's protest writings.

Sinclair became a member of the Socialist party in 1902 and was Socialist candidate for Congress from New Jersey in 1906. In 1917 he left the party to support President Woodrow Wilson. He returned to the Socialist camp when Wilson supported Allied intervention in the Soviet Union. In California he stood for Congress on the Socialist ticket (1920), for the Senate (1922), and for governor (1926 and 1930). In 1933, persuaded to campaign seriously for governor, he called his program "End Poverty in California." His cogent presentation of Socialist ideas won him the Democratic nomination, but millions of dollars and a campaign based on falsehood and fear defeated him in the election.

World's End (1940) launched Sinclair's 11-volume novel series attempting to give an insider's view of American government between 1913 and 1949. One of the novels, Dragon's Teeth (1942), a study of the rise of Nazism, won the Pulitzer Prize. Before his death on Nov. 25, 1968, Sinclair had produced more than 90 books which netted at least $1 million, most of it contributed to socialist and reform causes.

Further Reading

Sinclair's My Lifetime in Letters (1960) and The Autobiography of Upton Sinclair (1962) are revealing, if not entirely reliable. Sinclair's work is discussed appreciatively in Alfred Kazin, On Native Grounds: An Interpretation of Modern American Prose Literature (1942). A brief essay and a rare reprint of the "End Poverty in California" program are in Arthur M. Weinberg, Passport to Utopia: Great Panaceas in American History (1968). □

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Sinclair, Upton (Beall) (1878-1968)

Sinclair, Upton (Beall) (1878-1968)

Famous American novelist, fearless champion of many unpopular causes. He was born on September 20, 1878, in Baltimore, Maryland, and later studied at the City College of New York. He was a Socialist candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives (1906, 1920); for the Senate (1922); and for governorship of California (1926, 1930). In 1934, he was narrowly defeated as the Democratic candidate for governor of California.

He published over 80 books, some of which were translated into more than 50 languages. His most well-known books include The Jungle (1906), King Coal (1917), The Brass Check (1919), The Goose Step (1923), Oil (1927), Between Two Worlds (1941), Presidential Agent (1944), Presidential Mission (1947), and O Shepherd Speak (1947).

In his book Mental Radio: Does it Work, and How? (1930), he detailed his investigations into the phenomena of telepathy with his wife, Mary Craig Sinclair. The book, to which William McDougall wrote the introduction to the English edition and Albert Einstein to the German edition, presents a lively account of the abilities of Mary Sinclair as a sensitive, or psychic. She first became aware of her powers after the death of several intimate friends. They were further awakened by her contact with Jan, a Pole, who had studied yoga in India and performed some of the feats of the fakirs. He was, for some time, a guest in the Sinclair home.

Upton Sinclair himself was, for some time, irritated by his wife's gift. In the waking state and in her dreams she could follow her husband and describe his doings. Finally he decided to experiment. The usual method was to make half a dozen drawings of anything that came into his mind. These were folded. His wife, in a dark room, would take them one by one, place them on her abdomen and then write or draw her impression.

The curious thing was that sometimes the second drawing was registered on her mind before she finished with the first one. When, for instance, a necktie was drawn, she added puffs of smoke at the end of the tie. The next object was a burning match.

Sinclair concluded: "We have something more than telepathy, for no human mind knows what drawings she has taken from that envelope. No human mind but her own even knows that she is trying an experiment. Either there is some super-human mind or else there is something that comes from the drawings, some way of 'seeing' other than the way we know and use all the time."

Walter Franklin Prince made the Sinclair experiments the subject matter of the sixteenth bulletin of the Boston Society for Psychic Research, dealing also with a great deal of unpublished material and giving an account of a series of control tests with ten different persons. Upton Sinclair died November 25,1968.

Sources:

Berger, Arthur S. and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York: Paragon House, 1991.

Prince, Walter Franklin. The Sinclair Experiments Demonstrating Telepathy. Boston: Boston Society for Psychic Research, n.d.

Sinclair, Upton. The Autobiography of Upton Sinclair. N.p.,1962.

. Mental Radio: Does it Work, and How? Pasadena, Calif.: The Author, 1930.

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Sinclair, Upton

Upton Sinclair (Upton Beall Sinclair), 1878–1968, American novelist and socialist activist, b. Baltimore, grad. College of the City of New York, 1897. He was one of the muckrakers, and a dedication to social and industrial reform underlies most of his writing. The Jungle (1906), a brutally graphic novel of the Chicago stockyards, aroused great public indignation and led to reform of federal food inspection laws. With the money earned from that novel, Sinclair established (1906) a short-lived socialist community, Helicon Home Colony, at Englewood, N.J., and a decade later he moved to Southern California. Among Sinclair's other novels exposing social evils are King Coal (1917), Oil! (1927), Boston (on the Sacco-Vanzetti Case, 1928), and Little Steel (1938). In his social studies, such as The Brass Check (1919), on journalism, and The Goose-Step (1923), on education, he tried to uncover the harmful effects of capitalist economic pressure on institutions of learning and culture.

An ardent socialist, Sinclair was in and out of the American Socialist party and, under its aegis, ran unsuccessfully for congressman, senator, and governor. In 1934 he was again defeated, this time as the Democratic party's candidate for California governor. World's End (1940) is the first of a cycle of 11 novels that deal with world events since 1914 and feature the fictional Lanny Budd as hero; the third, Dragon's Teeth (1942), won a Pulitzer Prize. Many of Sinclair's more than 90 books have been widely translated.

See his autobiography (1962) and reminiscences, American Outpost (1932) and My Lifetime in Letters (1960); biographies by L. Harris (1975), A. Arthur (2006), and K. Mattson (2006); studies by F. Dell (1927, repr. 1970), A. Blinderman, ed. (1975), J. A. Yoder (1975), W. A. Bloodworth, Jr. (1977), and R. N. Mookerjee (1988); bibliography by R. Gottesman (1973).

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Sinclair, Upton Beall

Sinclair, Upton Beall (1878–1968) US novelist and social reformer. In 1906 he published his first novel, The Jungle, an exposé of the Chicago meat-packing industry, which led to the reform of US food inspection laws. His other novels include The Money Changers (1908), King Coal (1917) and Dragon's Teeth (1942, part of an 11-volume roman-fleuve entitled World's End), for which he won a Pulitzer Prize.

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