John Griffith London known as Jack London, a renowned American writer and social activist, was born on 12th January 1876, San Francisco, California. His parents were William Chaney, an attorney, and Flora Wellman, a music teacher and spiritualist. The early years of his life do not provide any evidence of a happy childhood as his biological father never existed in his life. His mother later married another man, a Civil War veteran, John London. As a child, he grew up in a working-class, where he shaped his hardscrabble life, doing various odd jobs. However, these early experiences later proved vital for his writings.
Since Jack’s early years were tough and unruly, he never got a chance to attain proper formal education. To make ends meet, he had to do various small jobs. However, during leisure time, he turned toward libraries to read travel books and novels. During this time, he came across the great writings of Herman Melville, Washington Irving, and Robert Louis Stevenson. He was only fifteen at that time. Afterward, he joined Oakland High School and contributed various articles to the school’s magazine, The Aegis. Later, he attended the University of California but never completed his degree. Despite being minimally educated, his literary wonders have left a lasting impression on the literary landscape of the world.
Jack London married twice in life. First, he married Elizabeth Mae on the 7th of April in 1900 and they had two children, Joan and Bessie. Although London had a great love for his children, his relation with his wife remained strained. Unfortunately, they parted ways on the 11th of November, in 1904. The following year, London married Charmian Kittredge and remained together until his death.
Some Important Facts of Jack London
- He is known to be the first literary figure who became a millionaire, using his pen.
- Despite his short life of 40 years, he made those years highly productive by producing fifty volumes of novels, essays, and short stories.
- He loved agriculture and during his stay in Japan, he observed various agricultural techniques, which he later brought to Californian farms.
- He died in California on the 22nd of November in 1916.
Jack, a prolific reader, decided to change his fortune by using his sharp brain and witty ideas. He was tired of working odd jobs before he finally decided to opt for writing as a career. His life as a writer began in 1893 when her mother pushed him to take part in a writing contest. He participated in that contest and won $25 first prize, beating students from Stanford and Berkeley College. Later, in 1899, he started publishing stories in Overland Monthly and won immense popularity. After some successful publications, he came up with his big hit, The Call of the Wild, in 1903. Thus, writing transformed his hard-driving lifestyle and made him stand among the best literary figures of his time. Some of his notable works include The People of the Abyss, White Fang, John Barleycorn, and many other fictional and non-fictional works.
Jack applied straightforward and descriptive naturalist style in most of his works. His unique style helps the reader understand the situations, characters, and incidents of the story in a straightforward and natural way. Another prominent feature of his writing is his ability to tell the story from an animal’s perspective. For instance, he used this technique in his works, Call of the Wild and White Fang. His writings provided the reader with a completely different perspective. Regarding literary devices, he often turns toward abstract diction, imagery, symbolism, and metaphors. The major themes in his writings are bitter experiences of life, violence, nature, death, Survival of the Fittest, and Socialism.
Some Important Works of Jack London
- Best Novels: Some of his outstanding novels stand The Cruise of the Dazzler, A Daughter of the Snows, The Call of the Wild, Jerry of the Islands, The Little Lady of the Big House, and Hearts of Three.
- Other Works: Besides writing novels, he tried his hands on other genres of literature too. Some of them include “An Old Soldier’s Story”, “One More Unfortunate”, “The End of the Chapter”, “The Lost Poacher”, The Cruise of the Snark, and What Communities Lose by the Competitive System.
Jack London’s Impact on Future Literature
Jack London’s considerable legacy is an asset for the succeeding generations. His socialism and literary naturalism left important impacts on the literature of various nations. Through his writings, many people have experienced life beyond the imaginable edges of the world, the complex struggle to strive in any place, and the inner-most core of the labor class. Jack’s literary marvels touched several hearts across the globe and made many authors and critics sing in his praise. He fictionalized his ideas in his works so well that writers are inspired and follow in his footsteps even today.
- “He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars.” (The Call of the Wild)
- “But especially he loved to run in the dim twilight of the summer midnights, listening to the subdued and sleepy murmurs of the forest, reading signs and sounds as a man may read a book, and seeking for the mysterious something that called — called, waking or sleeping, at all times, for him to come.” (The Call of the Wild)
- “Why, if there is anything in supply and demand, life is the cheapest thing in the world. There is only so much water, so much earth, so much air; but the life that is demanding to be born is limitless. Nature is a spendthrift. Look at the fish and their millions of eggs.” (The Sea Wolf)