Upton Sinclair

Upton Sinclair
Upton Beall Sinclair Jr.jpg
BornUpton Beall Sinclair Jr.
(1878-09-20)September 20, 1878
Baltimore, Maryland
DiedNovember 25, 1968(1968-11-25) (aged 90)
Bound Brook, New Jersey
OccupationNovelist, writer, journalist, political activist, politician
NationalityAmerican
Notable worksThe Jungle
Spouse
  • Meta Fuller
    (m. 1900; div. 1911)
  • Mary Craig Kimbrough
    (m. 1913; died 1961)
  • Mary Elizabeth Willis
    (m. 1961; died 1967)

Signature

Upton Beall Sinclair Jr. (September 20, 1878 – November 25, 1968) was an American writer who wrote nearly 100 books and other works in several genres. 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.

In 1906, Sinclair acquired particular fame for his classic muck-raking novel The Jungle, which 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.[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. Four years after publication of The Brass Check, the first code of ethics for journalists was created.[2] Time magazine called him "a man with every gift except humor and silence".[3] He is also well remembered for the line: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."[4] He used this line in speeches and the book about his campaign for governor as a way to explain why the editors and publishers of the major newspapers in California would not treat seriously his proposals for old age pensions and other progressive reforms.[5]

Many of his novels can be read as historical works. Writing during the Progressive Era, Sinclair describes the world of industrialized America from both the working man's and the industrialist's points of view. 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.

The Flivver King describes the rise of Henry Ford, his "wage reform", and the company's Sociological Department to his decline into antisemitism as publisher of The Dearborn Independent. King Coal confronts John D. Rockefeller Jr., and his role in the 1913 Ludlow Massacre in the coal fields of Colorado.

Sinclair was an outspoken socialist and ran unsuccessfully for Congress as a nominee from the Socialist Party. He was also the Democratic Party candidate for Governor of California during the Great Depression, running under the banner of the End Poverty in California campaign, but was defeated in the 1934 elections.

Early life and education

Sinclair was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Upton Beall Sinclair Sr. and Priscilla Harden Sinclair. His father was a liquor salesman whose alcoholism shadowed his son's childhood. Priscilla Harden Sinclair was a strict Episcopalian who disliked alcohol, tea, and coffee. As a child, Sinclair slept either on sofas or cross-ways on his parents' bed. When his father was out for the night, he would sleep alone in the bed with his mother.[6] Sinclair did not get along with her when he became older because of her strict rules and refusal to allow him independence. Sinclair later told his son, David, that around Sinclair's 16th year, he decided not to have anything to do with his mother, staying away from her for 35 years because an argument would start if they met.[7] His mother's family was very affluent: her parents were very prosperous in Baltimore, and her sister married a millionaire. Sinclair had wealthy maternal grandparents with whom he often stayed. This gave him insight into how both the rich and the poor lived during the late 19th century. Living in two social settings affected him and greatly influenced his books. Upton Beall Sinclair, Sr., was from a highly respected family in the South, but the family was financially ruined by the Civil War, disruptions of the labor system during the Reconstruction era, and an extended agricultural depression.

As he was growing up, Upton's family moved frequently, as his father was not successful in his career. He developed a love for reading when he was five years old. He read every book his mother owned for a deeper understanding of the world. He did not start school until he was 10 years old. He was deficient in math and worked hard to catch up quickly because of his embarrassment.[8] In 1888, the Sinclair family moved to Queens, New York, where his father sold shoes. Upton entered the City College of New York five days before his 14th birthday,[9] on September 15, 1892.[6] He wrote jokes, dime novels, and magazine articles in boys' weekly and pulp magazines to pay for his tuition.[10] With that income, he was able to move his parents to an apartment when he was seventeen years old.[11]

He graduated in June 1897 and studied for a time at Columbia University.[12] His major was law, but he was more interested in writing, and he learned several languages, including Spanish, German, and French. He paid the one-time enrollment fee to be able to learn a variety of things. He would sign up for a class and then later drop it.[13] He again supported himself through college by writing boys' adventure stories and jokes. He also sold ideas to cartoonists.[11] Using stenographers, he wrote up to 8,000 words of pulp fiction per day. His only complaint about his educational experience was that it failed to educate him about socialism.[14] After leaving Columbia, he wrote four books in the next four years; they were commercially unsuccessful though critically well-received: King Midas (1901), Prince Hagen (1902), The Journal of Arthur Stirling (1903), and a Civil War novel titled Manassas (1904).[citation needed]

Upton became close with Reverend William Wilmerding Moir. Moir specialized in sexual abstinence and taught his beliefs to Sinclair. He was taught to "avoid the subject of sex." Sinclair was to report to Moir monthly regarding his abstinence. Despite their close relationship, Sinclair identified as agnostic.[8]

Other Languages
العربية: أبتون سنكلير
azərbaycanca: Epton Sinkler
български: Ъптон Синклер
čeština: Upton Sinclair
Ελληνικά: Άπτον Σίνκλερ
español: Upton Sinclair
Esperanto: Upton Sinclair
français: Upton Sinclair
Bahasa Indonesia: Upton Sinclair
italiano: Upton Sinclair
Kiswahili: Upton Sinclair
latviešu: Aptons Sinklērs
lietuvių: Upton Sinclair
македонски: Аптон Синклер
Nederlands: Upton Sinclair
norsk nynorsk: Upton Sinclair
پنجابی: اپٹن سنکلیر
português: Upton Sinclair
Simple English: Upton Sinclair
slovenčina: Upton Sinclair
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Upton Sinclair
Türkçe: Upton Sinclair