Upton Sinclair had an unusual upbringing. His father was an alcoholic and his immediate family was poor, but he often stayed with his wealthy grandparents in New York, allowing him to experience two extremes of American society.
To pay his way through New York City College he wrote jokes and fiction for magazines and newspapers. His was successful enough to progress to the Columbia graduate school.
After writing The Jungle, Sinclair invested nearly $30,000 of the proceeds into the Helicon Home Colony, a utopian society being set up in New Jersey. Unfortunately, it burned down four months later.
He ran for Governor of California twice. The first time he ran as a Socialist candidate and garnered few votes. The second time, in 1934, as a Democrat. This time around, during the depths of the Great Depression, he began a political movement that he hoped to both combat the affects of the depression and use as a springboard to the governorship. That plan, known as the EPIC (End Poverty in California), galvanized the support of the Democratic Party, and Sincliar gained its nomination. Conservatives in California were themselves galvanized by this, as they saw it as an attempted Communist takeover of their state and used massive political propaganda portraying Sinclair as a Communist. Sincair was defeated in the election and largely abandoned EPIC and politics to return to writing.
Books by Upton Sinclair