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Some novels merely entertain, while others stand apart. "The Jungle" is a novel that changed the world and haunted its readers, inspiring the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act. Written as a social protest against working conditions, and covering race, poverty, immigration, gender, and political reform, it makes shocking allegations about the Chicago meatpacking industry and was used by President Theodore Roosevelt in his presentation to Congress. Not only did this book call for change, it spearheaded it.
About the Author
Upton Beall Sinclair Jr. was born on September 20, 1878, in Baltimore, Maryland. His father was a liquor salesman and an alcoholic from a wealthy Southern family whose money was lost after the Civil War. His mother was from an extremely wealthy family and a strict Episcopalian. In 1888, the family moved to New York City, where his father sold shoes. When Upton was fourteen, he enrolled in the City College of New York, writing jokes, magazine articles and dime novels to pay his tuition. In 1897, he went to Columbia University, majoring in law. By 1904, he had written four novels. That same year, he went undercover in Chicago's meatpacking plants for research purposes. From that came "The Jungle," which quickly became a bestseller. He married Meta Fuller in 1902 and they had a son, but she left him for another man in 1911. In 1913, he married Mary Craig Kimbrough. She died in 1961, and he married for a third time to Mary Elizabeth Willis. In the 1920s, he ran twice for Congress, but lost both times and ran for governor of California in 1934, but lost again. In addition to "The Jungle," Sinclair also wrote two Sylvia novels and eleven Lanny Budd novels, one of which, "Dragon's Teeth" won the Pulitzer Prize in 1943. In all, Upton wrote nearly 100 books, four of which were made into movies. He died in a nursing home in Bound Brook, New Jersey, on November 25, 1968, at the age of 90, and is buried in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D. C. 380