The Life of Jack London





Brent Carpenter
October 23, 200
Paper #1

The Life of Jack London


John Griffith London, who is considered by many to be America’s finest author, was born January 12, 1876 in San Francisco, California to an unmarried mother of a wealthy background, Flora Wellman. His father is thought to have been William Chaney, a Journalist, lawyer and major figure in the development of American Astrology. Because Flora was ill, an ex-slave, Virginia Prentiss, who would remain a major maternal influence during the boy’s childhood, raised Jack through infancy. Late in 1876, Flora married John London, a disabled Civil War veteran. The family moved to Oakland, where Jack completed grade school and would develop his love of the outdoors.
As a child Jack worked at various hard labor jobs, pirated for oysters on San Francisco Bay, served on a patrol to catch poachers, sailed on a sealing ship, joined Kelly’s Army of unemployed working men, was a toured the country as a hobo. Jack later returned home to attend high school at the young age of 19. During his travels he became acquainted with socialism, for which he was known as the Boy Socialist of Oakland. London would run unsuccessfully several times for mayor of Oakland on the Socialist ticket.
Jack developed a love of reading and began writing to escape the horrors of his laborious childhood for which he wanted to forget. Jack became a highly disciplined writher who produced over fifty volumes of stories, novels, and political essays. Even though The Call of the Wild brought London lasting fame, many of his short stories are considered classic and also. London’s long voyage (1907-1909) across the Pacific in a small boat provided material for books and stories about Polynesian and Melanesian, which were instrumental in popularizing Hawaii as a tourist spot.
London was an extremely publicized person in his day and used the media attention to his advantage. His strong support of Socialism, women’s suffrage and prohibition were often hot topics in his dealing with the press. He was also one of the first writers who worked closely with the movie industry, and had a good number of his novels made into movies. His first novel The Sea Wolf became the basis for the first full-length American movie. London was also one of the first celebrities to use his endorsement for commercial products in advertising. These characteristics are some of the traits that many modern day celebrities practice.
London was a very adventurous man who had a love of the outdoors. In Glen Ellen California, Jack purchased the “Beauty Ranch”, which he dreamed of as being the perfect working ranch. A beautiful ranch house called the “Wolf House” was constructed on the property from native redwood trees and local boulders, however, the house tragically burned and only the walls were left standing. London was far ahead of his time and studied many techniques being used overseas such as spreading manure, terracing, and green water mulching. Many modern day ranches adopted these revolutionary practices and still use them today.
London was first married in 1900 to Bess Maddern, with whom he had two daughters, Joan and Bess. His marriage to Bess followed Jack’s belief that wives should be chosen for breeding, not love. He later divorced Bess for a new woman, Charmian Kittredge, five years his senior. She became the typical woman for whom he wrote about in many of his future writings. Charmian also was encouraged by London to write and completed three books about their life(The Log of the Snark, Our Hawaii, The Book of Jack London).
Jack often wrote about nature and often promoted his Beauty Ranch in his writings. London had a unique style that was very brutal and exciting, which made him very popular both in the United States and in other countries. His works were often translated into other languages. London often used contradictory themes in his writings, which made it very difficult to put into simple terms.
Often troubled by physical ailments, during his thirties London developed a kidney disease of unknown origin. He died on November 22, 1916 on his ranch, which he loved so much. London was a man who lived the American dream by going from rags to riches and having a good