American Literature/20th Century/Jack London



Jack London was born January 12, 1876, in San Francisco. He was a voracious reader as a child, borrowing book after book from the public library. By age 14 he left home and became a wanderer. He worked aboard a ship for awhile and also spent time hopping trains.

By continuing his childhood practice of reading library books, he educated himself and eventually enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley when he was 19 years old. He had already begun to write seriously and hoped to make a living at it.

During his travels London had adopted socialist views and in 1901 ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Oakland, California, as the Socialist Party candidate. He was writing steadily, producing numerous novels, short stories, and essays in a span of just a few years.

In 1910 he purchased a tract of land in Sonoma County, California, and poured his time and energy into his home there, which he named Beauty Ranch. In 1913 it was destroyed by a fire, and London discovered that he was in very bad health. His few remaining years were bleak, and he died on November 22, 1916.


  • Selected novels
    • A Daughter of the Snows (1902)
    • The Call of the Wild (1903)
    • The Sea-Wolf (1904)
    • White Fang (1906)
    • The Mutiny of the Elsinore (1914)
  • Short story collections
    • Tales of the Fish Patrol (1906)
    • Smoke Bellew (1912)
    • The Turtles of Tasman (1916)
  • Memoirs
    • The Road (1907)
    • John Barleycorn (1913)
  • Nonfiction and essays
    • The People of the Abyss (1903)
    • Revolution, and other Essays (1910)
    • The Cruise of the Snark (1913)
    • How I became a socialist
  • Plays
    • The Acorn Planter: a California Forest Play (1916)

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