Upton Sinclair Biography

Upton Sinclair Biography

Upton Sinclair was a complicated figure, at once a success and a failure. On one hand, he was an influential author. The Jungle, Sinclair’s 1906 novel about the meat-packing industry, was extremely popular and led to the passage of laws revising the standards of food processing. On the other hand, Sinclair held unpopular (at the time) political views and beliefs that overshadowed much of his career as a prolific writer. Sinclair made several unsuccessful bids for office under Socialist tickets that damaged his reputation. Though he never gave up his activism, he did recognize how hard it was to get people to share his views. Sinclair famously stated, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on not understanding it.”

Facts and Trivia

  • Sinclair used his earnings from The Jungle to create a commune dedicated to his principles. It lasted just one year.
  • One member of Sinclair’s commune was the similarly named writer Sinclair Lewis, who would later make Upton a character in one of his own novels.
  • His novel Boston tied him to the controversial case of Sacco and Vanzetti, two anarchists who were found guilty of murder and executed in 1927. Some of Sinclair’s personal writings led later scholars to consider that the two famously innocent men might actually have been guilty, but that position has largely been refuted.
  • Sinclair wrote an eleven-book saga featuring the character Lanny Budd. The third novel in the series won the Pulitzer Prize.
  • In 2007, writer and director Paul Thomas Anderson adapted Sinclair’s book Oil as the Golden Globe-nominated film There Will Be Blood.
Additional Content
  • Biography (History of the World: The 20th Century)
  • Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)
  • Biography (Survey of Novels and Novellas)
  • Biography (Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)
  • Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)
  • Biography
  • Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)
  • Biography

(The entire section is 6754 words.)