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.