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Jack London

About Jack London

John Griffith “Jack” London was an American novelist, journalist and social activist. London was born into a poor family in San Francisco. During his childhood he worked a variety of odd jobs ranging from delivering newspapers to setting up pins in a bowling alley. In an interview, he stated that he worked hard from his eighth year, and eventually graduated from school in Oakland. After that, he teamed up with a few explorers and spent a few years exploring nature. He later began to write for a local newspaper and completed the entrance exam for the University of California at Berkeley. He dropped out halfway through his freshman year and submerged himself in writing. This didn’t lead him anywhere, so in 1897, he took off to search for gold in the Klondike region of the Yukon Territory in northwestern Canada during the “Gold Rush”.

Many of his stories are based on his experiences in the Yukon. The overall theme of London’s stories are about adventure, and intense danger in risky situations. In most of his stories, the characters are usually challenged by the harsh environments that surround them.

His first major success was a short story collection called The Son of the Wolf published in 1900. His most famous short story, To Build a Fire (1908) focuses on survival. His most famous novel was The Call of the Wild which was published in 1903. It is about the escape to freedom of a sled dog named Buck.

London became incredibly rich from his writings, but his success greatly altered his life. In 1900, he married and had two daughters, but his wife filed for divorce in 1905. He later remarried and established his home in Glen Ellen, a town north of San Francisco. There he intended to create an estate which was later burned down in 1913. It was after this when he became an alcoholic and suffered from kidney disease and depression. One evening on November 1916, London took a lethal dose of narcotics and lapsed into a coma. He died the next day when he was only 40 years old.