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The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/London, Jack

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LONDON, Jack, American author: b. San Francisco, 12 Jan. 1876; d. Glen Ellen, Cal., 22 Nov. 1916. He was the son of John London, a frontiersman, scout and trapper, who had come to San Francisco in 1873. His early life was spent on California ranches up to the age of nine years, when the family removed to Oakland, Cal. From his ninth year, with the exception of intermittent periods at school, his life was one of toil, which has been vividly presented to the readers of his work, for practically all of his novels and short stories have a background taken from his own life.

His experiences in youth as an oysterman and bayman, his long voyage on a sealing schooner along the coast north of the Russian side of the Behring Sea, his many short voyages, his year of following the life of a tramp bent on acquiring experience and investigating social and economic conditions, have all been brilliantly built into his many works of fiction. At 19 years London entered the University of California, but half way through his freshman year he had to quit for lack of money or means to support himself. He went to work in a laundry, writing in all his spare time. London gave up work in the laundry to go to the Klondike during the gold rush there in 1897. He was one of the few who made it in the winter of that year over Chilcoot Pass. After a year of unsuccessful gold seeking he fell a victim of the scurvy. Unable to get a home-bound steamer, he and two camp mates embarked in an open boat for the Behring Sea. It was immediately upon his return to San Francisco that he began to turn out literature. More than once in his books London insisted that he gained his literary equipment through his hard life. His Alaskan experiences were reflected in his earlier works. He leaped into fame as one of the foremost young American authors with ‘The Call of the Wild’ (1903). In 1904 and 1905, after the series of Alaskan stories had given him great fame and founded the school of writers who for some years after placed their stories in an Arctic setting, London went to Korea as a war correspondent. After his return he settled down to produce fiction in amazing volume, interrupting this only for a number of picturesque cruises. In recent years he and Mrs. London had lived a large part of the time at Hawaii. London was the author of the following: ‘The Son of the Wolf’ (1900); ‘The God of His Fathers’ (1901); ‘A Daughter of the Snows’ (1902); ‘The Children of the Frost’ (1902); ‘The Cruise of the Dazzler’ (1902); ‘The Faith of Men’ (1904); ‘The Sea Wolf’ (1904); ‘The Game’ (1905); ‘War of the Classes’ (1905); ‘Tales of the Fish Patrol’ (1905); ‘Moon Face’ (1907); ‘White Fang’ (1907); ‘Love of Life’ (1907); ‘Before Adam’ (1907); ‘Lost Face’ (1909); ‘Martin Eden’ (1909); ‘The Iron Heel’ (1908); ‘The Road’ (1908); ‘Revolution’ (1910); ‘Burning Daylight’ (1910); ‘Theft’ (1907); ‘When God Laughs’ (1910); ‘Adventure’ (1911); ‘The Cruise of the Snark’ (1911); ‘Smoke Bellew’ (1912); ‘Night-Born’ (1912); ‘The Abysmal Brute’ (1913); ‘The Valley of the Moon’ (1913); ‘Mutiny of the Elsinore’ (1914); ‘The People of the Abyss’ (1903), his adventures in the East End of London; ‘The Kempton-Wace Letters’ (1903) and ‘John Barleycorn, or Alcoholic Memoirs’ (1913); ‘The Strength of the Strong’ (1914); ‘The Scarlet Plague’ (1915); ‘The Star Rover’ (1915); ‘The Little Lady of the Big House’ (1916); ‘Jerry’ (1916); ‘The Turtles of Tasmar’ (1916).