- Jack London (1876-1916).
- The novelist and short-story writer Jack London was, in his
lifetime, one of the most popular authors in the world. After
World War I his fame was eclipsed in the United States by a new
generation of writers, but he remained popular in many other
countries, especially in the Soviet Union, for his romantic tales
of adventure mixed with elemental struggles for survival.
- John Griffith London was born in San Francisco on Jan. 12,
1876. His family was poor, and he was forced to go to work early
in life to support himself. At 17 he sailed to Japan and Siberia
on a seal-hunting voyage. He was largely self-taught, reading
voluminously in libraries and spending a year at the University
of California. In the late 1890s he joined the gold rush to the
Klondike. This experience gave him material for his first book,
'The Son of Wolf', published in 1900, and for 'Call of the Wild'
(1903), one of his most popular stories.
- In his writing career of 17 years, London produced 50 books
and many short stories. He wrote mostly for money, to meet ever-increasing
expenses. His fame as a writer gave him a ready audience as a
spokesman for a peculiar and inconsistent blend of socialism
and racial superiority.
- London's works, all hastily written, are of uneven quality.
The best books are the Klondike tales, which also include 'White
Fang' (1906) and 'Burning Daylight' (1910). His most enduring
novel is probably the autobiographical 'Martin Eden' (1909),
but the exciting 'Sea Wolf' (1904) continues to have great appeal
for young readers.
- In 1910 London settled near Glen Ellen, Calif., where he
intended to build his dream home, "Wolf House." After
the house burned down before completion in 1913, he was a broken
and sick man. His death on Nov. 22, 1916, from an overdose of
drugs, was probably a suicide.