Upton Sinclair was born September 20, 1878 in Baltimore. As a child his family was very poor and his father was an alcoholic and in 1888 the family moved to New York City. Sinclair also spent periods of time living with his very wealthy grandparents. Sinclair will later argue that because as a child he witnessed such extremes (from poverty-to riches) it turned him into a socialist. When he was young he was very religious and had a great love for literature. He was also a very intelligent boy and at the age of 14 he entered New York City College. Shortly after this he had his first article published in a national magazine (http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Jupton.htm) Sinclair funded his college education by writing articles and stories for newspapers and magazines. By the time Sinclair was 17 he was earning enough money so that he could afford himself an apartment and could also supply his parents with a regular income.
Sinclair's first novel was published in 1901 and was called "Springtime and Harvest". Many other books followed. Some of them were "The Journal of Arthur Stirling" (1903), "Prince Hagen" (1903), "Manassas" (1904), and "A Captain of Industry" (1906). But all of these books did badly in sales. (Upton Sinclair, American Rebel--by Leon A. Harris) Sinclair became an active socialist in the early 1900's. This happened after Sinclair read such books as "Merrie England", "The People of the Abyss", "Appeal to the Young", and "Octypus". In September of 1905 Sinclair joined up with Jack London, Clarence Darrow, and Florence Kelley to form the Intercollegiate Socialist Society. (Upton Sinclair, American Rebel--by Leon A. Harris) In 1904 the editor of the socialist journal Appeal to Reason, Fred Warren, commissioned Sinclair to write a novel concerning immigrant workers in Chicago meat packinghouses.