The Cyclopædia of American Biography/London, Jack

The Cyclopædia of American Biography  (1918) 
James E. Homans, editor
London, Jack

LONDON, Jack, author, b. in San Francisco, Cal., 12 Jan., 1876; d. at Glen Ellen, Cal., 22 Nov., 1916, son of John and Flora (Wellman) London, of New England ancestry. His father was a soldier, scout, backwoodsman, and trapper, who crossed the continent from Pennsylvania to California. Jack London received his early education at the public schools of Oakland and helped to increase the family income by selling newspapers after school hours. Later he engaged in salmon-fishing, oyster-pirating, schooner-sailing, and other precarious and adventurous enterprises on San Francisco Bay. At the age of sixteen he shipped before the mast on a sailing-vessel, and in 1893 he made a voyage to Japan and went seal-hunting in the Behring Sea. In 1894 he tramped through the United States and Canada, leading the life of a “hobo” and gathering sociological data at first hand. These data formed the subject of many interesting sociological essays and furnished material for many of his stories of the underworld. When he had finished his wanderings he returned to Oakland, completed the first year's work at the high school there and passed the entrance examination to the State University. He was obliged to leave college before completing his freshman year, and in 1897 he went to the Klondike where he found a wealth of literary material that has found shape in some of his best works. In 1898 he returned to Oakland and in the following year his first magazine article appeared in the “Overland Monthly.” He then devoted himself altogether to literature. In 1902 he lived for a time as a tramp in the slums of the east end of London, continuing the sociological studies in which he was intensely interested, and during the Russo-Japanese War he went to the front as war correspondent for the New York “Journal.” At various other times he traveled extensively in out-of-the-way places, and lectured all over the United States on his travels and on sociological topics. His published works are chiefly books of adventure, marked by a strength, freshness, and originality of both subject and style, which set them apart from any other literature of the kind which is now being produced in America. They include: “The Son of the Wolf” (1900); “Tales of the Far North” (1900); “The God of His Fathers and Other Stories” (1901); “Daughter of the Snows” (1902); “The Cruise of the Dazzler” (1902); “The Children of the Frost” (1902); “The Call of the Wild” (1903); “The People of the Abyss” (1903); “The Kempton-Wace Letters” (co-author 1903); “The Sea-Wolf” (1904); “The Faith of Men” (1904); “The Fish Patrol” (1905); “Moon-Face” (1906); “White Fang” (1907); “Before Adam” (1907); “Love of Life” (1907); “The Iron Heel” (1907); “The Road” (1907); “Martin Eden” (1909); “Lost Face” (1909); “Revolution” (1909); “Burning Daylight” (1910); “Theft” (1910); “When God Laughs” (1910); “Adventure” (1911); “The Cruise of the Snark” (1911); “John Barleycorn” (1913); “The Valley of the Moon” (1914). Mr. London married twice: first 7 April, 1900, to Bessie Maddern, of Oakland, Cal.; second, 19 Nov., 1905, to Charmian Kittredge, of Chicago.