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Upton Sinclair

Author Background
by

Sarah Applegate

on 23 October 2015

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Transcript of Upton Sinclair

Upton Sinclair
Author Background

1878-1968
Childhood and Family
Born in Baltimore- raised in NYC
Both poor and wealthy due to father’s alcoholism and mother’s wealthy family
conflict between extremes became theme in writing
how did this influence his Socialist beliefs?
Education/ Writing Career
attended City College in New York & Columbia
Prolific magazine publications
Little success with early novels
Socialism/Activism
Joined Socialist party around time of Meat Cutters’ strike of 1904- workers asked for uniform wages- strike failed due to finances
Wrote “manifesto” for Socialist weekly
approached to write about “wage slavery”
Chicago Research
Lived in Chicago for 7 weeks
Studied lives of workers, talked to professionals, examined meat packing system
Found abuse, bribery, crime, “slavery”
Characters found at Lithuanian wedding feast- spent 8 hours there
The Jungle
Recalled poverty of own family- Ona modeled after his wife Meta
Investigation began as a result of novel- understatement!
Federal Investigation
Secretary of Agriculture sent commission- meatpackers convinced that Sinclair’s evidence was false
Roosevelt sent 2nd commission- all true except man who fell in vat and was canned
Meat sales dropped by 50%
6 months after published- Pure Food and Drug Act & Beef Inspection Act became law
New York Times credited Sinclair for change
Roosevelt “snubbed” Sinclair
Sinclair's Goal
Was he satisfied with the novel's success?
Less than 12 pages about impure food- wanted to focus on exploitation of labor
Later Life
1934 won Democratic primary for California governor
Known for historical fiction
1942 novel Dragon’s Teeth about Hitler’s rise to power- won Pulitzer Prize
1967 Wholesome Meat Act passed to plug loopholes- Sinclair present & credited by President Johnson
Agree or Disagree?
In America, opportunity and the American dream are available to everyone.
It is important to expose the scandals of society.
It is more important to help everyone than to just help yourself.
Journal for October 24, 2014
Define the American Dream. Explain.

Everyone in America has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Through honest hard work, anyone can be successful.
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Full transcript