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.

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Sources: www.jacklondon.com/ London, Jack, "The Sea-Wolf and Other Stories", Penguin Books, London, 1989 Last Updated 04.15.04

Born John Griffith Chaney in San Francisco, London was the son of an astrologer who deserted his family. He quit school at the age of 14 and spent the next decade wandering North America and the Pacific. He went to Japan as a sailor, rode the rails in America as a hobo, spent time in jail for vagrancy, and headed to the Klondike during the gold rush.

Determined to make a living as a writer, he approached it as a trade, and found his way into print with his tales of Alaska. His novel Martin Eden (1909) describes the determined and disillusioning uphill climb he made out of the "Social Pit" from poverty to society. London hit the big time with the success of The Call of the Wild in 1903 and became the highest paid writer in the United States. Still, London was no spendthrift, and had to write for money for the rest of his life.

Thought of by many as a mere adventure writer, the best of his realistic and often horrifyingly blunt cautionary tales of the wilderness only rarely descend into sentimentality. His most interesting works explore the gray area between civilization and the wild, chronicling the adventures and self-discovery of protagonists like Martin Eden and Buck in Call of the Wild who straddle the boundary between both worlds. London’s experiences with poverty, toil, and prison made him a militant socialist, and his ideas informed much of his work, especially his nonfiction and journalistic writing. His book The Iron Heel (1908) is a chilling prophecy of fascist tyranny.

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