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Ann Kathleen Otto


The Immortal Jack London

The next blog was to be about early 20th century eating establishments, but today is Jack London's birthday and I'm looking at the biography that his daughter Joan London wrote, Jack London and His Times. It was published in 1939 by the now defunct Book League of America. I love one of the quotes, "Hurry! Faster, faster! This, the dominant characteristic of Jack London's activity until the end of his life, was immediately evident. . ." She wrote this describing him as he graduated from high school. And we know she was right.

He was born in San Francisco and worked in a cannery, and later on a schooner before becoming a tramp during the panic of 1893. He was drawn to the Klondike during the Gold Rush (see photo), and all of those experiences created the raw material for his newspaper columns and books.  He was a passionate socialist and a war correspondent during the Russo-Japanese War. He had two marriages, and Joan and her sister Bessie were from the first.

As an aside, given the popularity and of his animal stories (Call of the Wild and White Fang as examples) and the emotions they engender, it shouldn't surprise that at the end of his life he used his writing skills to take up the cause of cruelty to animals.

Still a Best Seller

The realism in London's writing continues to be popular with today's readers just as it has for over one hundred years. New books on his early development, adventures, and politics continue to be published as do new editions of his work.

He was born the same time as the main characters in Yours in a Hurry, and many of the Pacific Ocean experiences described in the book are based on London's stories including his 1907 world cruise on the Snark. The Hartles were avid readers and interested in politics, so London would have been a favorite.

As David Bowie did this week, Jack London left his followers a message just before his death. Journalist Ernest J. Hopkins visited London's ranch just weeks before and reported these words from London in the San Francisco Bulletin, December 2, 1916.

". . . The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time."

And use them he did.

Pick up a Jack London book and read it this weekend.

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