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Jack London

Jack London was an American author who wrote more than 50 books, including The Call of the Wild (1903). He was one of the first Americans to gain financial success from writing. Early days John Griffith London was born on January 12, 1876, in San Francisco, California, to Flora Wellman, who was unmarried. Although there are no documents to prove who his father was, there is reason to believe he was William Chaney, a journalist and astrologer. John's mother was ill when he was born, so he was reared through infancy by Virginia Prentiss, an ex-slave, who remained a prominent figure through his boyhood. In late 1876, his mother married John London, a Civil War veteran and settled in Oakland, California, where John finished grade school. John adopted the name, Jack, as an adolescent. He dropped out of school when he was a young teenager and worked at many jobs, including oyster fishing in the San Francisco Bay, serving on fish patrol to capture poachers, and sailing the Pacific on a sealing ship. When he returned home, he joined Kelly’s Army (unemployed working men) and hoboed around the country. At the age of 19, he returned to high school. While traveling around the country, Jack had encountered socialism, and at home he became known as the "Boy Socialist of Oakland," running for mayor several times, but never elected. Jack chose to become a writer to avoid life as a factory worker, and began to submit poems, stories, and jokes to various publications, mostly without success. Words for sale London spent the winter of 1897 in the Yukon, which provided him the "gold" for his first stories. He began to publish in the Overland Monthly, in 1899. From that point on, he was known as a writer. London would go on to publish more than 50 volumes of stories, novels, and essays. London married Bess Maddern in April 1900, the same day The Son of the Wolfwas published. The couple had been friends for many years and decided to marry not out of love, but because they were friends, they thought they would produce sturdy children. They produced two daughters, but after London had an affair, they divorced. He married the "other woman," Charmian Kittredge, in 1905, who would become the persona for many of his female characters in his writings. In 1910, London purchased a ranch in Glen Ellen, California. The spread became his new love and he often wrote just to support his passion. The ranch is now a National Historic Landmark, the Jack London State Historic Park. London was troubled by physical ailments, beginning in his 30s. He developed a kidney disease of unknown origin and died of renal failure on November 22, 1916, at his ranch, at the age of 40. His ashes are buried with his wife’s at the ranch. The grave is marked only by a moss-covered boulder.