Upton Sinclair's 1906 Novel 'The Jungle'

Words: 1297
Pages: 6

The publication of Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel The Jungle produced an immediate and powerful effect on Americans and on federal policy, but Sinclair had hoped to achieve a very different result. At the time he began working on the novel, he had completed his studies at Columbia University and was trying to develop a career as an author. He had been born in Baltimore in 1878, but his family had moved to the Bronx in 1888. Though he came from a prominent family, his own parents had little money, and he paid for his university studies by writing dime novels and short stories. While at Columbia, he also became a convert to socialism.

At the time, journalists had begun to play an important role in exposing wrongdoing. Around 1902, magazine publishers discovered that their sales soared when they featured exposés of political corruption, corporate misconduct, or other offenses. McClure’s Magazine led the way, in October 1902, with a series by Lincoln Steffens that revealed corruption in city governments. In January 1903, McClure’s carried
…show more content…
Upon arriving in his hotel in Chicago, Sinclair is said to have announced, “I am Upton Sinclair, and I have come to write the Uncle Tom’s Cabin of the labor movement.” For seven weeks, he prowled the streets of Packingtown, the residential district next to the stockyards and packing plants. He donned overalls, posed as a worker, and slipped into the packing plants to gain firsthand knowledge of the work. He sought out social workers, police officers, physicians, and others who could tell him about life and work in Packingtown. Local socialists introduced him to other people who were knowledgeable about the community and the work. At the end of seven weeks, he returned home to New Jersey, shut himself up in a small cabin, and wrote for nine