The Jungle: Biography: Upton Sinclair
Upton Beall Sinclair, prolific American novelist, playwright and writer of non-fiction, was born in Maryland in 1878. At the age of 10 his family moved to New York. He helped to support himself through college (at New York City College and then Columbia University) by writing numerous short stories and novellas. As a writer committed to left-wing politics, many of his mainstream works are often notable for their demand for social change.
The Jungle (1906), which is concerned with the lives of meatpacking workers in Chicago, brought Sinclair international acclaim as a writer. He was originally sent to the area by the socialist paper Appeal to Reason (which is referenced in the novel) to investigate the conditions. It became a best seller as a novel and although he intended it to be an indictment of the treatment of workers in Chicago’s stockyards, it aroused greater worries about the standard of food. It is deemed influential in the passing of the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act (1906). The proceeds from the sales allowed him to buy Helicon Hall for a socialist living experiment, but this burned down just a year later.
In all, Sinclair wrote over 90 works of fiction and non-fiction and these include The Metropolis (1908), The Brass Check (1919) and The Goose-Step (1923). As well as writing, he was also concerned with political change and stood in elections (unsuccessfully) for Congress as a socialist. His most notable campaign was for the Governor of California in 1934 on the Democratic ticket using the agenda of End Poverty in California (EPIC).
In the 1940s, he recaptured his earlier fame as an author with his Lanny Budd series of novels including World’s End (1940) and Dragon’s Teeth (1942). The latter work was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1943. Sinclair died in 1968 at the age of 90.