Upton Sinclair Additional Biography


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

In 1932, writers and scholars from more than fifty countries signed a petition to nominate Upton Sinclair for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Although unsuccessful, the campaign reflected the international consensus that, at his prime, he was the voice of America. During his long career, literary and political luminaries such as Robert McNamara, Norman Mailer, Allen Ginsberg, Walter Cronkite, Bertolt Brecht, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Leon Trotsky, George Bernard Shaw, Charlie Chaplin, Albert Einstein, Jack London, Sinclair Lewis, and scores of others cited him as a source of inspiration. His commitment to literature in the service of society was, perhaps, best summed up by McNamara, secretary of defense in the 1960’s, who said that Sinclair influenced his thinking by identifying many of the problems which, unresolved even in modern times, continued to divide the nation.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Upton Beall Sinclair, Jr., was born in Baltimore, Maryland, but reared in New York City. He finished high school at the age of twelve, but he was too young for college and had to wait until he was fourteen before he could enter the City College of New York. While an undergraduate, he helped support himself by writing stories and jokes for pulp magazines. In one span of a few weeks, he turned out fifty-six thousand words, an incredible feat even for a prolific prodigy such as Sinclair. In 1898, after taking his B.A. from CCNY, Sinclair enrolled as a special student in the Graduate School of Columbia University; he withdrew, however, after a professor told him, “You don’t know anything about writing.” In 1900, Sinclair married Meta Fuller and began work on his first novel, Springtime and Harvest, which was written in Canada. Shortly afterward, in 1902, he joined the Socialist Party. The reception of his early fiction gave Sinclair little critical encouragement, and the works gained him very little cash—his first four novels brought him less than one thousand dollars, and the threat of poverty put a strain on his marriage. In 1905, Sinclair, with Jack London, formed the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, an indication of his growing political radicalism.

Sinclair’s first fame came with his fifth novel, The Jungle; he was even invited to the White House by President Theodore Roosevelt to discuss the book. With the thirty thousand dollars that The Jungle earned for him, Sinclair founded a utopian community, Helicon Colony, in New Jersey. In 1907, an arsonist burned down the colony and Sinclair’s fortune with it. This was the first actual persecution that...

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(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

ph_0111206440-Sinclair.jpg Upton Sinclair. Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Author Profile

Sinclair started writing while a student at the City College of New York, which he entered at the age of fifteen. His early novels include Springtime and Harvest (1902, retitled King Midas); Prince Hagen (1903); The Journal of Arthur Stirling (1903); Manassas (1904); and A Captain of Industry (1906). He is best known, however, for The Jungle (1906), a brutally graphic exposé of Chicago’s stockyards that led to the strengthening of federal food adulteration laws. True to his socialist beliefs, Sinclair invested the profits from this, his most successful book, in the Helicon Home Colony, a cooperative community in Englewood, New...

(The entire section is 1138 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 20, 1878, Upton Sinclair moved with his family to New York City in 1888 and began his career as a prodigy. He finished secondary school when he was twelve and became a student at the City College of New York at the age of fourteen. From the age of fifteen he supported himself in part by writing stories for the pulp magazines. After graduating from City College in the middle of his class, Sinclair attended Columbia University from 1897 to 1900. He had intended to become a lawyer but became interested in literature and left Columbia without a graduate degree. He married Meta Fuller in 1900 and began to write novels. His first five books, published between 1901 and 1906, gave him little...

(The entire section is 799 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

One of the most prolific writers in the history of American letters, Upton Beall Sinclair published ninety books and thousands of essays over...

(The entire section is 422 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Born in a boardinghouse in Baltimore, young Sinclair grew up in poverty. In compensation, he was sent to live for months with rich uncles. Their endless snobbery and flaunted wealth outraged Sinclair, who, at the end of his life, wrote in The Autobiography of Upton Sinclair (1962) that everything in his later life confirmed his resolve never to sell out to that class. Aided by phenomenal memory, at the age of five he taught himself to read, devouring whole libraries. Later he maintained that it was Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray who molded his instinct for social justice. At fourteen, he entered City College (now the City College of New York), reading all textbooks in the first few weeks, after which he...

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(Novels for Students)

Upton Sinclair is best known today as the author of The Jungle, which is probably a legacy he would accept, since it is true that this...

(The entire section is 601 words.)