Jack London: An American Life



by  Earle Labor

I thoroughly enjoyed this biography of a rough and tumble young man who made his own way in the world, travelling widely and using all his adventures to create his novels and short stories! From being an oyster pirate in Oakland to signing on as cabin boy on a sealing ship which took him to Yokohama at the age of seventeen, he was always up for any new experience. Off to try his hand at prospecting in the Yukon, he came back empty handed except for a wealth of stories to tell.

London in Yokohama, 1093

London in Yokohama, 1093

I was interested to learn about his life and especially his voyage to Hawaii, Samoa and the Solomon islands on a small sloop with a motley crew and his “game-for-anything” second wife Charmian Kittredge. They had some narrow escapes and suffered from malaria, open sores and other tropical ailments.

Jack with Charmian

Jack with Charmian

Jack London was also an occasional journalist who reported on the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, the Mexican Revolution in 1910 and the heavyweight championship fight between Jack Johnson and James J. Jeffries.


Reporting on the Russo-Japanese War, Korea,1904


I visited Jack London’s ranch or the small cabin they had lived in north of San Francisco. He was very proud of the ranch where he applied natural farming methods, raising vegetables, pigs and cows. He and Charmian were building a beautiful home overlooking the sea. It mysteriously burned to the ground just before completion.

Jack London, author of Call of the  Wild and White Fang

Jack London, author of Call of the Wild and White Fang

Now that I know more of London’s life, I look forward to reading The Sea Wolf, a lovely edition my brother gave me some years back. I would recommend this fast-moving life story of a man who lived life boldly and fearlessly and worked very hard writing about it!


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