1876-1916 American novelist
A sailor, gold-seeker in the Klondike Gold Rush and war correspondent, he created romantic yet realistic and often brutal fiction.
He was born in San Francisco. His mother was a music teacher and spiritualist. Little is known about his biological father. His mother then married a civil war vetran, John London. Jack spent his boyhood in Oakland and the farms nearby. Every plan his parents hatched for making money failed. They ended up in a series of poor houses in and around Oakland. Jack worked for a time as a newsboy and as he got older, in a cannery.
In 1893, at the age of 17, he set off on a 7 month stint on a Sealing ship called the "Sophie Sutherland". This cruise proved to be an education in and of itself. From this experience, he drew the material to write the first story he got published about a typhoon off Japan. It also gave him the reality for his most famous work, The Sea-Wolf.
He was extremely hard working and prolific as a writer, having produced stories, articles, jokes, ballads, light plays, sonnets, anecdotes and novels. He wrote for many publications, including Cosmopolitan Magazine, Harper's Monthly, The Metropolitan Magazine, Overland Monthly, The Saturday Evening Post, and many others.
Among his many popular novels are:
Classic Short Stories he wrote include:
A socialist, London expressed his views in many tracts and in several novels, e.g., The Iron Heel 1907. In later years he was beset by alcoholism and financial problems, and he committed suicide.
London, Jack, "The Sea-Wolf and Other Stories", Penguin Books, London, 1989
Last Updated 04.15.04