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November 2019 Notable Maryland Author Upton Sinclair

Upton Beall Sinclair

"I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach."  Upton Sinclair

Upton Beall Sinclair, (September 20, 1878 - November 25, 1968) was born in Baltimore, but his family moved to New York when he was a child. When he was a teenager he began writing brief bits for newspapers and magazines. Sinclair was a prolific writer.  He is known for his affiliation with socialism and for writing The Jungle, published in 1906.  It was his sixth novel and was an exposé of the awful working conditions of the Chicago meatpacking industry.  His intent was to show how socialism and unions were the answer to poor living, working, and social conditions.  Most readers focused on the depiction of unsafe food production creating an uproar that resulted in the major changes to national regulations on food preparation. The Jungle made him nationally famous.

The Jungle earned Sinclair enough money to establish the Helicon Home Colony, a socialist community in New Jersey.  The community only lasted about a year.  Sinclair remained committed to social causes and to exposing the dangerous effects of capitalism in realistic fiction, essays and various other writings. In 1915, he moved to California, where he ran unsuccessfully for public office several times, including for governor.  While there, he wrote The Brass Check, a systematic and incriminating critique of the severe limitations of the "free press" in the United States. In it he described the yellow journalism techniques created by William Randolph Hearst.  In 1953, Sinclair moved to Arizona where he continued to write books, finally completing The Autobiography of Upton Sinclair.

Genre: Social Exposé 

Social exposé is dedicated to finding and exposing living, working, or social conditions that are dangerous for people to endure, but are in place because of selfish, powerful, or evil people who are unconcerned or because no law prevents the practices. Writers of social exposé bring the dark deeds into the daylight so that concerned citizens (individuals or organizations) can make the necessary changes or improvements.

Partial reading list: “Lanny Budd” series of novels (World’s End, Pulitzer Prize-winning Dragon’s Teeth), The Jungle, The Autobiography of Upton Sinclair, The Brass Check.

Writer's Prompt - Fun With Words

MWA invites you to have fun writing ocial exposé.  Using just 100 words, write a ocial exposé account where your character endures a living, working, or social condition that would be changed, if only a specific person or group were aware of it.  Pick your character, identify the issue, and select the group the character feels will help. Have fun and send us your result.

Submit Your FUN WITH WORDS Prompt

Submit by the 25th of the month and receive an MWA Fun With Words Submission Certificate.  Selected submissions may be published at www.mwawritersroundtable.org the following month.

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