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Sinclair, Upton (Beall).

Sinclair, Upton (Beall) (b. Sept. 20, 1878, Baltimore, Md., U.S.--d. Nov. 25, 1968, Bound Brook, N.J.)

American novelist and polemicist for socialism and other causes; his Jungle, The (1906) is a landmark among naturalistic, proletarian novels.

Sinclair supported himself by journalistic writing. It was a newspaper assignment that led him to write The Jungle, his sixth novel and first popular success. Published at Sinclair's own expense after several publishers rejected it, it became a best-seller, and Sinclair used the proceeds to open Helicon Hall, the site of a cooperative-living venture in Englewood, N.J. The building was destroyed by fire in 1907 and the project abandoned.

A long series of other topical novels--among them Oil! (1927), based on the Teapot Dome Scandal of the early 1920s, and Boston (1928), based on the controversial trial of the anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti--followed, but none achieved the popularity of The Jungle.

Sinclair again reached a wide audience with the Lanny Budd series, 11 contemporary historical novels beginning with World's End (1940) that are constructed around an implausible antifascist hero.

During the economic crisis of the 1930s, Sinclair organized the EPIC (End Poverty in California) socialist reform movement; in 1934 he was defeated as Democratic candidate for governor. His autobiographical American Outpost: A Book of Reminiscences (1932; U.K. title, Candid Reminiscences: My First Thirty Years) was reworked and extended in The Autobiography of Upton Sinclair (1962).

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Publication:Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature
Article Type:Brief biography
Date:Jan 1, 1995
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