Upton Sinclair Essay - Sinclair, Upton (Vol. 1)

Sinclair, Upton (Vol. 1)

Sinclair, Upton 1878–1968

An American muckraking novelist, Sinclair is best known for The Jungle, a novel which led to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 5-8, rev. ed.; obituary, Vols. 25-28.)

The Jungle laid bare the unsanitary practices and unfair working conditions then existing in the meatpacking industry. President Theodore Roosevelt read the book, was greatly impressed, and ordered a federal investigation. The investigation supported the facts presented in Sinclair's novel and resulted in the passage of one of America's most highly prized pieces of legislation, The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, the cornerstone of modern American sanitation….

A good friend of Sinclair's, George Bernard Shaw, once said that when people asked him what had happened during his long lifetime, he referred them not to the newspaper files but to Sinclair's novels. Sinclair, indeed, was a superb journalist and his books comprise a significant record of 20th-century American culture. But he was far more than a chronicler of his time. He was also a fine storyteller. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the English writer who created Sherlock Holmes, considered him one of the greatest novelists in the world. Sinclair told his story as he saw it, and for the good of humanity. His books were written with the immediate purpose of helping mankind and throughout his lifetime he was a fearless and untiring crusader.

Bernard Dekle, "Upton Sinclair: The Power of a Courageous Pen," in his Profiles of Modern American Authors, Charles E. Tuttle, 1969, pp. 70-4.