An advocate for social justice, novelist Upton Beall Sinclair (1878-1968) was born on this day in Baltimore, Maryland. The incredibly bright Sinclair worked his way through school and entered college at age 14.
"All truly great art is optimistic," he once said. "The individual artist is happy in his creative work. The fact that practically all great art is tragic does not in any way change the above thesis."
His fictional classic, The Jungle (1906) exposed unscrupulous practices in a turn-of-the-century Chicago stockyards. The powerful novel galvanized Theodore Roosevelt into action. The President established the Food and Drug Administration and revolutionized the meat packing industry. Sinclair's masterpiece became an immediate international success.
"I aimed at the public's heart," Sinclair explained, "and by accident I hit it in the stomach."
An admirer, then friend of writer Jack London, Sinclair once said he was inspired by "Jesus, Hamlet, and Shelley."
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." he said. Following an unsuccessful bid for the California governorship in 1934, he won the 1943 Pulitzer Prize for Dragon's Teeth, a novel that examined Hitler's rise to power.
Sinclair observed: "I am sustained by a sense of the worthwhileness of what I am doing; a trust in the good faith of the process which created and sustains me. That process I call God."
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Shake the world with your heart and head.