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Jack London Biography

ack London (Jan 12, 1876 – Nov 22, 1916) was an American author best known for writing The Call of the Wild. Jack London was his pen name, likely born in San Francisco, California as John Griffith Chaney. Like the restive characters in his works, London sought a variety of experiences as a young man including sailor, hobo and an agitator for jobs during the depression. He also wrote some of the earliest Dystopian Fiction, including The Iron Heel which portrays America under tyrannical rule, written ten years before the Bolsheviks took over Russia.

During his vagrant period, he spent thirty days in the Erie County jail in New York:

“Man-handling was merely one of the very minor unprintable horrors of the Erie County Pen. I say ‘unprintable’; and in justice I must also say ‘unthinkable’. They were unthinkable to me until I saw them, and I was no spring chicken in the ways of the world and the awful abysses of human degradation. It would take a deep plummet to reach bottom in the Erie County Pen, and I do but skim lightly and facetiously the surface of things as I there saw them.”

Jack London, The Call of the WildLondon became a well-known writer and was one of the first to achieve true financial success from his writings. His success brought controversy as well. He was prodigious writer producing over 500 works and was often accused of plagiarism. The manner in which he chose to work contributed to those accusations; he bought plots for stories and novels from a young Sinclair Lewis and he used incidents read in newspapers as material for his stories.

London’s most famous short story, particularly popular in both middle- and high school language arts classes, is To Build a Fire. His best-selling book during his lifetime was his 1910 novel Burning Daylight.

Jack London, quote about hand deal at couple of favorite Jack London quotes:

  • “Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.”
  • “The most beautiful stories always start with wreckage.”
  • “A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.”
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