Essay, Research Paper: Jack London

Famous People

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Jack London (1876-1916) was easily the most successful and best-known writer in
America in the first decade of the 20th century. He is best known for his books,
The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and The Sea-Wolf, and a few short stories,
such as "To Build a Fire" and "The White Silence." He was a
productive writer whose fiction traveled through three lands and their cultures
such as the Yukon, California, and the South Pacific. His most famous writings
included war, boxing stories, and the life of the Molokai lepers. “He was
among the most influential people of his day, who understood how to use the
media to market his self-created image of a once poor boy to now famous
writer”(biography of Jack London). He left over fifty books of novels,
stories, journalism, and essays. London was born in San Francisco to an
unmarried mother, Flora Wellman. His father may have been William Chaney, a
journalist, and lawyer. Because Flora was ill, for eight months Jack was raised
by an ex-slave, Virginia Prentiss. Late in 1876, Flora married John London, a
partially disabled Civil War veteran, who adopted Jack. The family moved around
the Bay area for a while before settling in Oakland, where Jack completed grade
school. When he was young, London worked at different hard jobs. He searched for
oysters on San Francisco Bay, served on a fish patrol, sailed the Pacific on a
sealing ship, hoboed around the country, and returned to attend high school at
age 19. During that time, he became familiar with socialism. He ran
unsuccessfully several times for Mayor of Oakland. London's great love became
agriculture, and he often said he wrote to support his Beauty Ranch in Glen
Ellen. He brought techniques observed in Japan, like terracing and manure
spreading and used them on his farm. Troubled by physical problems, during his
thirties, London developed kidney disease. He died on November 22, 1916.
Following his death, for a number of reasons a myth developed in which he was
made up to be an alcoholic womanizer who committed suicide. But it was proved
wrong. But its rumor has resulted in neglect of his books and his popularity.
His writings became translated in several dozen languages, and he remains more
widely read by other countries around the world, than in America.  Because
he read so much, he chose to become a writer as an escape from the terrible life
as a factory worker. He studied many famous writings and began to submit
stories, jokes, and poems but most came without success. His experiences when he
was a boy, later formed books for boys' adventure stories like The Cruise of the
Dazzler (1902) and Tales of the Fish Patrol (1905). A committed socialist, he
insisted against editorial pressures to write political essays and insert social
criticism in his fiction. Spending the winter of 1897 in the Yukon, he began
publishing in the Overland Monthly in 1899. Many were books were written during
this period of his life he told stories in The Son of the Wolf (1900), Children
of the Frost (1902), Smoke Bellew (1912). Although The Call of the Wild (1903)
brought him lots of fame , many of his short stories also became famous, like
The People of the Abyss (1903), and the same for his discussion of alcoholism in
John Barleycorn (1913). London's concern for the outcasts of society were
notably written in The People of the Abyss (1903), a harrowing portrayal of
English slum life and The Road (1907). His struggle to become a writer is
recorded in his autobiographical novel, Martin Eden (1909). London's long voyage
(1907-09) across the Pacific in a small boat also created more books about the
cultures he saw. He helped break the fear that people had about leprosy. After
their marriage he followed with a book he co-wrote with Anna Strunsky, The
Kempton-Wace Letters, which said that mates should be selected for good
breeding, not love. (Bess agreed.) London's fiction and political writings
express a strong commitment to his belief individualism and socialism.

“Biography of Jack London” The Jack London collection (DL SUNSITE)
“Jack London Search Results” BIOGRAPHY.COM.
“London, Jack” Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. 1996 ed.

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