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Jack London Biography & Life Story

Jack London
Jack London

Jack London Quick Fact:

Born: January 12, 1876, San Francisco, California, U.S.

Died: November 22, 1916 (aged 40), Glen Ellen, California, U.S.

Occupation: Novelist, journalist, short story writer and essayist

Literary movement: Realism, Naturalism

Spouse: Elizabeth Maddern (m. 1900; div. 1904), Charmian Kittredge (m. 1905)

Biography of Jack London:

A prolific writer of the nineteenth century John Griffith Chaney better known as Jack London. Because of his poor financial situation, he could not continue his higher studies. He did not have a usual childhood like most of the children but this did not restrain him from becoming an author, he dealt with it and overcame his grief. He decided to take writing as a profession because he realized his flair for writing. Jack has wrote several stories, novels, poetry, and even autobiographical literary pieces during his entire career. He also worked as a journalist and covered news on war and natural calamity as earthquake. John was an adventurous novelist and his journeys provided him the material of for his stories. His works helped him to know the world in a better way and bestowed him with huge experience. These experiences later helped him in authoring short stories and novels revolving around different themes that continue to amuse the readers still today

Childhood & Early Life of Jack London:

On 12 January 1876, Jack London was born at San Francisco, California. He was born to Flora Wellman, an unwed mother, and William Chaney, an attorney, journalist and pioneering leader in the new field of American astrology but he was never part of Jack’s life. Therefore, his mother married a person named John London, a Civil War veteran, and, probably, after that he took up the surname of his stepfather. The family moved around the Bay Area before settling in Oakland. His initial schooling was from ‘West End School’ in Alameda, California and he joined the ‘Oakland Cole Grammar School’ in 1887, situated in West Oakland, California. However, he dropped out of school after completing eighth grade. Jack London grew up working-class. He carved out his own hardscrabble life as a teen. He rode trains, pirated oysters, and shoveled coal, worked on a sealing ship on the Pacific and found employment in a cannery. In his free time, he hunkered down at libraries, soaking up novels and travel books.

Career of Jack London:

At the age of fourteen, Jack was employed at a cannery and then, soon he bought a sloop named ‘Razzle Dazzle’, thus beginning his adventurous voyages. He joined the ‘California Fish Patrol’ department of the ‘California Natural Resources Agency’ in 1892. The same year he was sent to the coast of Japan on a seal-hunting schooner called ‘Sophie Sutherland’. Based on this journey, he wrote the story “Typhoon of the Coast of Japan”. United States faces a severe economic depression in 1893 and Jack became a member of the ‘Kelly Army’ (Coxey Army) at the same year. He joined the march of the unemployed people led by the Jacob Coxey. He was leading life like a vagabond and even imprisoned for this for a short span, and sent to Erie County, New York. During his life as a vagabond, he had amassed a lot of experience and all these experiences formed the basis of his book “The Road”. He to the ‘Oakland High School’ and joined the ‘University of California’, Berkeley in 1896 with a desire to continue a literary career. However, his financial situation forced him to drop out of the institution a year later. He became a member of the ‘Socialist Labor Party’ in 1896. The following year, he set on a journey to Canada to the Klondike (where gold was discovered which resulted in the gold rush). Jack travelled there to improve his future. He did not get any material benefit from that place but he gathered a lot of experience that helped him later in his career as an author. The gold rush expedition made him sick. He went back to his parents in Oakland in 1898. He was unaware of his stepfather’s death. After that, he decided to continue his career as an author and support his family. He wrote the short story “A Thousand Deaths” during this time and it was printed in the magazine called ‘The Black Cat’ in the year 1899. He rejected a job at the post office the same year and concentrated on writing. This was one of his most prolific years as he wrote stories, poems, jokes and many more. He started earning a living as an author by selling his story “To the Man on the Trail” to ‘The Overland Monthly’ magazine in1899. He wrote the story “An Odyssey of the North” in 1900 that published in the magazine ‘Atlantic Monthly’. His first book “The Son of the Wolf” also released in the same year that was a collection of stories was. After the publication of his first book, he has wrote many short stories such as “The Man and the Gash”, “Thanksgiving On Slav Creek”, “Housekeeping In The Klondike”, “The Law of Life’, ‘Moon-Face”, “To Build a Fire”, collection of short stories such as “Children of the Frost”, “Lost Face”, and even written plays, poetry, essays, novels and autobiographical pieces. He travelled to England in 1902, and penned the book “The People of the Abyss” and began work on another story named “The Call of the Wild” that was published the following year. In 1904, during the ‘Russo-Japanese War’ he worked as a journalist for the newspaper ‘The San Francisco Examiner’. In the year 1906, he reported about the San Francisco earthquake as a correspondent of the magazine named ‘Collier’s’. His novels include “The Cruise of the Dazzler”, “The Call of the Wild”, “The Sea-Wolf”, “White Fang” and many more. He also wrote autobiographical pieces such as “The Road”, “The Cruise of the Snark” and “John Barleycorn”.

Personal Life & Legacy of Jack London:

He married Bessie May Maddern on 7th April 1900. The couple was blessed with two children named Joan and Bessie. The couple separated after four years. After that, Jack got married for the second time to Charmian Kittredge in 1905. The couple went on various voyages. Jack breathed his last on 22nd November 1916, in his ranch in California. The cause of his death is still not determined. The ‘Jack London Square’ in Oakland, California has been named after him, and so is the ‘Jack London lake’ located in Yagodninsky region Magadan Oblast. In January 1986, the ‘United States Postal Service’ honoured him when they released the postal stamps series called the ‘Great Americans’.

Notable Works of Jack London:

  • The Call of the Wild
  • To Build a Fire
  • The Iron Heel
  • Martin Eden
  • The Sea-Wolf
  • White Fang
  • Burning Daylight
  • The Cruise of the Snark

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