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Upton Sinclair


Upton Sinclair was born in 1878 in Baltimore. His father was an unsuccessful liquor salesman who made full use of his wares. His mother came from a well-off Baltimore family and spent little time with either her husband or son. As a child, Sinclair was sickly and stayed at home, not going to school till he was ten. He took advantage of this to read extensively. He excelled at school and, before he was fourteen, was attending the College of the City of New York. While there he published his first story in Argosy magazine. He continued to write, in particular selling many jokes. He wrote his first novel, a rehash of Treasure Island called The Prairie Pirates. After graduating in 1897, he went to work for a pulp magazine called The Army and Navy Weekly. He produced a large amount of hack work during this time.

At the turn of century he set out to write The Great American Novel and moved to an isolated cabin in Quebec to do so. He wrote the whole book in his head before putting pen to paper and producing the very mundane Springtime and Harvest. It was rejected by various publishers before Sinclair published it himself. Funk and Wagnalls picked it up and published it under the title King Midas. However, he failed to take the American public by storm, even with his civil war novel Manassas. However, in 1906 The Jungle was published and it catapulted Sinclair to fame. It was written at the suggestion of Fred Warren, editor of a socialist weekly, Appeal to Reason, after Sinclair wrote to the magazine to protest at the brutal repression of strikers in the Chicago stockyards. Sinclair lived with the workers for seven weeks and then wrote his novel. This is the novel for which he is now remembered.

Despite reluctance by his original publishers (Macmillan), the book was a huge bestseller both in the United States and in Britain and was translated into seventeen languages. Sinclair used the proceeds to found a utopian community in Englewood, New Jersey he called Helicon Hall. An arsonist burned it down in 1907. Incidentally, Sinclair Lewis worked there as a janitor for two months. Sinclair continued to wrote plays, novels, stories and pamphlets but never repeated the success of The Jungle, though Oil! was a big seller (helped by being banned in Boston, which led him to write his third best-selling novel, Boston). In 1923 he was arrested by the police after speaking at a rally in support of the Industrial Workers of the World. The protests over his arrest led to the founding of the American Civil Liberties Union. His best seller, Boston, focussed on the famous Sacco and Vanzetti affair though, by the time he had finished, he had doubts about their innocence. He also supported Prohibition, remembering his father’s downfall, and his unsuccessful novel The Wet Parade dealt with the issue.

Sinclair was eager to win the Nobel Prize and even organised a committee to promote his candidacy but he never did win it. He ran unsuccessfully for Congress three times and twice for governor of California. His 1934 campaign for governor of California which attracted a large smear campaign against him, which succeeded, was his best effort. He continued writing almost to his death and was involved in the issues of day, even supporting President Johnson over Vietnam in 1965. He died, aged ninety, in 1968.

Books about Upton Sinclair

Anthony Arthur: Radical Innocent: Upton Sinclair
William A. Bloodworth, Jr: Upton Sinclair
Leon Harris: Upton Sinclair: American Rebel
Ivan Scott: Upton Sinclair, the Forgotten Socialist
Jon Yoder: Upton Sinclair

Other links

Upton Sinclair
Upton Sinclair
Upton Sinclair (includes links to texts)
Upton Sinclair
The Fictitious Suppression of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle
1906: Rumble over ‘The Jungle’


1898 Saved by the Enemy or Clif Faraday’s Desperate Peril
1898 Clif Faraday’s Night-Watch or Within an Inch of his Life
1898 Through the Enemy’s Lines or Clif Faraday’s Perilous Mission
1898 The Shot That Won or Clif Faraday’s Steady Aim
1898 Up to the Cannon’s Mouth or Clif Faraday’s Perilous Ruse
1898 Back to Annapolis or Lively Times at Home for Faraday
1898 A Prisoner of Morro
1898 The Fighting Squadron: A Rattling Good Naval Story
1898 Courtmartialed
1899 Adrift in Mid-Air or Through Fire to Glory
1899 Holding the Fort
1899 A Soldier Monk
1899 A Soldier’s Pledge
1899 A Gauntlet of Fire
1899 Cadets to the Rescue or Faraday’s Cordon Of Death
1899 Clif Faraday’s Strongest Pull or Naval Cadets on a Hot Campaign
1899 Wolves of the Navy or Clif Faraday’s Search for a Traitor
1901 Springtime and Harvest (republished as King Midas)
1902 The Winning of Sarenne (under the pseudonym St. Clair Beall)
1903 The Journal of Arthur Stirling
1903 Bound for Annapolis or The Trials of a Sailor Boy
1903 Prince Hagen
1903 A Strange Cruise or Clif Faraday’s Yacht Chase
1903 The Cruise of the Training Ship or Clif Faraday’s Pluck
1903 From Port to Port or Clif Faraday in Many Waters
1903 Clif, the Naval Cadet or Exciting Days at Annapolis
1903 Off for West Point or Mark Mallory’s Struggle
1903 A West Point Treasure or Mark Mallory’s Strange Find
1903 The West Point Rivals or Mark Mallory’s Stratagem
1903 A Cadet’s Honor or Mark Mallory’s Heroism
1903 On Guard or Mark Mallory’s Celebration
1903 Prince Hagen: A Phantasy
1904 Manassas
1906 The Jungle
1906 A Captain of Industry
1907 The Industrial Republic
1907 The Overman
1908 The Metropolis
1908 The Moneychangers (UK: The Money Changers)
1909 Good Health and How We Won It (with Michael Williams)
1909 Samuel, The Seeker
1911 Love’s Pilgrimage
1911 The Fasting Cure
1912 Plays of Protest (The Naturewoman; The Machine; The Second-Story Man: Prince Hagen)
1913 Sylvia
1914 Damaged Goods
1914 Sylvia’s Marriage
1915 The Cry for Justice
1917 King Coal
1918 The Profits of Religion
1919 Jimmie Higgins
1920 The Brass Check
1920 100%: The Story of a Patriot
1920 The Spy
1921 The Book Of Life: Mind and Body
1922 The Book Of Life: Love and Society
1922 The Book of Life: the Book of Love
1922 They Call Me Carpenter
1923 The Goose-Step – A Study of American Education
1923 Hell
1923 Manasons: A Novel of the War
1924 The Goslings – A Study of American Schools
1924 The Pot Boiler
1924 Singing Jailbirds
1924 The Millenium
1925 Mammonart
1925 Bill Porter; a Drama of O. Henry in Prison
1926 Letters To Judd, An American Working Man
1926 The Spokesman’s Secretary, Being the Letters of Mame to Mom
1927 Oil!
1927 Money Writes
1928 Boston
1929 Oil! (drama)
1930 Mountain City
1930 Mental Radio
1931 Roman Holiday
1931 The Wet Parade
1932 American Outpost: A Book Of Reminiscences
1932 Candid Reminiscences
1933 Upton Sinclair Presents William Fox
1933 Manassas
1933 I, Governor Of California and How I Ended Poverty
1933 The Way Out: What Lies Ahead for America (UK: The Way Out: a Solution of our Present Economic and Social Ills)
1934 An Upton Sinclair Anthology
1934 Epic Answers: How to End Poverty in California
1934 The EPIC Plan for California
1934 The Lie Factory Starts
1934 Immediate EPIC; the Final Statement of the Plan
1935 Depression Island
1935 I, Candidate for Governor and How I Got Licked
1935 We, People of America and How We Ended Poverty – a True Story of the Future
1936 Co-Op
1936 The Gnomobile
1936 What God Means to Me
1936 Wally for Queen! The Private Life of Royalty
1937 The Flivver King
1937 No Pasarán!
1938 Our Lady
1938 Little Steel
1938 Terror in Russia? Two Views
1939 Expect No Peace!
1939 Telling the World
1939 Marie Antoinette
1939 Your Million Dollars; Letters to a Millionaire, Discussing His Money and What it is Doing to him and to us
1940 World’s End
1941 Between Two Worlds
1942 Dragon’s Teeth
1943 Wide is the Gate
1944 The Presidential Agent
1945 Dragon Harvest
1946 A World To Win
1947 Presidential Mission
1948 One Clear Call
1947 A Giant’s Strength
1948 Limbo On The Loose
1949 O Shepherd, Speak!
1950 Another Pamela
1950 The Enemy Had It Too
1952 A Personal Jesus
1953 The Return of Lanny Budd
1954 What Didymus Did (US: It Happened to Didymus)
1956 The Cup of Fury
1959 Theirs be the Guilt
1960 My Lifetime In Letters
1961 Affectionately Eve
1962 The Autobiography of Upton Sinclair
1965 August 22nd (condensation of Boston)
1976 The Coal War