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Free Study Guide-The Jungle by Upton Sinclair-Free Book Summary Notes
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BACKGROUND INFORMATION - BIOGRAPHY

Author Information

Upton Beall Sinclair Jr. was born on September 20, 1878, in Baltimore. His father, an unsuccessful salesman, was habituated to drink and his mother came from a wealthy family. At the age of ten, Sinclair moved with his family to New York City, where his formal education began. At fourteen, he entered the City College of New York and began supporting himself by writing pulp fiction. After graduating in 1897, he went on to do graduate work at Columbia University.

In 1900, Sinclair moved from New York to New Jersey and married Meta Fuller the same year. A year later, he privately published his first novel, Springtime and Harvest (later renamed King Midas) His first child, David, was also born that same year. Sinclair's marriage broke up by 1911. He was unable to get a divorce in America, however, and moved to Holland for a few years, where he obtained his divorce. In 1913 Sinclair returned to America and married Mary Kimbrough, daughter of a wealthy banker.

Sinclair's early political beliefs, a mixture of intellectual aristocracy and revolutionary democracy, later crystallized into a firm belief in Socialism. The Jungle, published in 1906, was Sinclair's sixth novel and first commercially successful work and with part of the proceeds he founded a Socialist cooperative in Englewood, New Jersey. In 1915, Sinclair moved to Pasadena, California. Always politically active he ran several times for office, never successfully. In the 1930's, he organized EPIC (End Poverty in California), a socialist reform movement. In 1934, he ran unsuccessfully for governor on a Democratic ticket.


Sinclair was a prolific writer, publishing numerous books, pamphlets, plays, articles, speeches, and letters on social conditions and social change. The Jungle was followed by, among others, King Coal (1917), about a 1914 strike by Colorado miners, Oil! (1927), about the Teapot Dome scandal, and, Boston (1928), about the Sacco-Vanzetti trial. While these works were not as popular as The Jungle, Sinclair enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in the 1940s with his anti-fascist Lanny Budd series of historical novels. In 1932 Sinclair was nominated for the Nobel Prize. He received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1943, for Dragon's Teeth (1942), a anti-fascist novel on Nazism in Germany.

In 1953, Sinclair moved to Buckeye, Arizona. After the death of his second wife in 1961, he married Mary Elizabeth Willis, whom he remained married to until her death in 1967. Sinclair died on November 15, 1968 at the age of ninety. Sinclair has been widely published and translated throughout the world, with some 90 published books in 47 languages and 39 countries.

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