Image of Jack London


Lifetime: 1876 - 1916 Passed: ≈ 107 years ago


Novelist, Journalist, Short Story Writer, Essayist


United States

Jack London

John Griffith London was an American novelist, journalist, and social activist. A pioneer of commercial fiction and American magazines, he was one of the first American authors to become an international celebrity and earn a large fortune from writing. He was also an innovator in the genre that would later become known as science fiction.

His most famous works include The Call of the Wild and White Fang, both set in the Klondike Gold Rush, as well as the short stories "To Build a Fire", "An Odyssey of the North", and "Love of Life". He also wrote about the South Pacific in stories such as "The Pearls of Parlay", and "The Heathen".

London was part of the radical literary group "The Crowd" in San Francisco and a passionate advocate of unionization, workers' rights, socialism, and eugenics. He wrote several works dealing with these topics, such as his dystopian novel The Iron Heel, his non-fiction exposé The People of the Abyss, War of the Classes, and Before Adam.

London died November 22, 1916, in a sleeping porch in a cottage on his ranch. London had been a robust man but had suffered several serious illnesses, including scurvy in the Klondike. Additionally, during travels on the Snark, he and Charmian picked up unspecified tropical infections and diseases, including yaws. At the time of his death, he suffered from dysentery, late-stage alcoholism, and uremia; he was in extreme pain and taking morphine.

London's ashes were buried on his property not far from the Wolf House. London's funeral took place on November 26, 1916, attended only by close friends, relatives, and workers of the property. In accordance with his wishes, he was cremated and buried next to some pioneer children, under a rock that belonged to the Wolf House. After Charmian's death in 1955, she was also cremated and then buried with her husband in the same spot that her husband chose. The grave is marked by a mossy boulder. The buildings and property were later preserved as Jack London State Historic Park, in Glen Ellen, California.

Suicide debate

Because he was using morphine, many older sources describe London's death as a suicide, and some still do.  This conjecture appears to be a rumor, or speculation based on incidents in his fiction writings. His death certificate gives the cause as uremia, following acute renal colic.

The biographer Stasz writes, "Following London's death, for a number of reasons, a biographical myth developed in which he has been portrayed as an alcoholic womanizer who committed suicide. Recent scholarship based upon firsthand documents challenges this caricature."  Most biographers, including Russ Kingman, now agree he died of uremia aggravated by an accidental morphine overdose.

London's fiction featured several suicides. In his autobiographical memoir John Barleycorn, he claims, as a youth, to have drunkenly stumbled overboard into the San Francisco Bay, "some maundering fancy of going out with the tide suddenly obsessed me". He said he drifted and nearly succeeded in drowning before sobering up and being rescued by fishermen. In the dénouement of The Little Lady of the Big House, the heroine, confronted by the pain of a mortal gunshot wound, undergoes a physician-assisted suicide by morphine. Also, in Martin Eden, the principal protagonist, who shares certain characteristics with London, drowns himself.

Books by Jack London

The Call of the Wild Cover image

The Call of the Wild

Adventure Fiction Novel
Children's Literature Civilization

Call of the Wild is an emotional rollercoaster of a novel set during the late 19th century Klondike Gold Rush. The central character is Buck, an Alaskan sled dog who is forced to adjust to the cruel climate in order to survive. If you have even a rem...

White Fang Cover image

White Fang

Adventure Fiction Novel
Love Violent Morose Wolf-Dog

The most appealing aspect of White Fang is that it's told from the point of view of an animal, in this case an Alaskan Husky. Like Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, White Fang also addresses ethical issues, social injustices and cruelty to our four footed...

The Sea Wolf Cover image

The Sea Wolf

Adventure Novel Psychology
Nautical Human Behaviors

The Sea-Wolf is a 1904 psychological adventure novel by American writer Jack London. The book's protagonist, Humphrey Van Weyden, is a literary critic who is a survivor of an ocean collision and who comes under the dominance of Wolf Larsen, the power...

The People of the Abyss Cover image

The People of the Abyss

Fiction Business
Morality Culture Anthropology

The People of the Abyss (1903) is a book by Jack London made up of his firsthand account of life in the East End of London.

Stories of Ships and the Sea Cover image

Stories of Ships and the Sea

Marine Short Stories Sea stories Nautical

5 Exciting short stories by one of Americas best story tellers

Martin Eden Cover image

Martin Eden


Martin Eden is a 1909 novel by American author Jack London about a young proletarian autodidact struggling to become a writer. It was first serialized in The Pacific Monthly magazine from September 1908 to September 1909 and then published in book fo...

The Valley of the Moon Cover image

The Valley of the Moon

Fiction Novel
Family Redemption Loss

The Valley of the Moon (1913) is a novel by American writer Jack London (as well as the mythic and romantic name for the wine-growing Sonoma Valley of California). The valley where it is set is located north of the San Francisco Bay Area in Sonoma Co...

John Barleycorn or Alcoholic Memoirs Cover image

John Barleycorn or Alcoholic Memoirs

Fiction Novel
Alcoholism Masculinity

John Barleycorn is an autobiographical novel by Jack London dealing with his enjoyment of drinking and struggles with alcoholism. It was published in 1913. The title is taken from the British folksong "John Barleycorn".

Before Adam Cover image

Before Adam

Science Fiction Novel
Evolution Speculative

Before Adam is a novel by Jack London, serialized in 1906 and 1907 in Everybody's Magazine. It is the story of a man who dreams he lives the life of an early hominid.

The Cruise of the Dazzler Cover image

The Cruise of the Dazzler

Adventure Fiction Novel
Voyage Travel

The Cruise of the Dazzler is an early novel by Jack London, set in his home city of San Francisco. It is considered a boy's adventure novel. In the novel, Joe Bronson, dissatisfied with his dull life at school, runs away and joins the crew of a s...

The Game Cover image

The Game

Death Sports Boxing

The Game is a 1905 novel by Jack London about a twenty-year-old boxer Joe, who meets his death in the ring. London was a sports reporter for the Oakland Herald and based the novel on his personal observations.

Burning Daylight Cover image

Burning Daylight

Fiction Novel
Western fiction Mining Wild West

Burning Daylight is a novel by Jack London, published in 1910, which was one of the best-selling books of that year and it was London's best-selling book in his lifetime. The novel takes place in the Yukon Territory in 1893. The main character, nickn...

The Iron Heel Cover image

The Iron Heel

Fiction Dystopian Novel
Thriller Oppression Suspense Espionage Oligarchy

The Iron Heel is a science fiction novel by American writer Jack London, first published in 1908.

Tales of the Fish Patrol  Cover image

Tales of the Fish Patrol

Adventure Fiction
Action Village Single Author Collections Ethnic Fisheries Waterways

Wildest among the fisher-folk may be accounted the Chinese shrimp-catchers. It is the habit of the shrimp to crawl along the bottom in vast armies till it reaches fresh water, when it turns about and crawls back again to the salt. And where the tide...

Revolution, and other Essays  Cover image

Revolution, and other Essays

Political Science Essays
Revolution Humorous Fiction political Capitalism Political Corruption

A collection of 13 essays written between 1900 and 1908, published in 1910. The lead essay, "Revolution", outlines how and why London renounced capitalism as a failed social system and declared himself an active participant in the "socialist revoluti...

A Daughter of the Snows  Cover image

A Daughter of the Snows

Adventure Novel
Love Action Society Life Prostitution General Fiction

A Daughter of the Snows is Jack London's first novel. Set in the Yukon, it tells the story of Frona Welse, "a Stanford graduate and physical Valkyrie" who takes to the trail after upsetting her wealthy father's community by her forthright manner and...

The Road  Cover image

The Road

Essay Money Autobiography Economic Short Works America Experiences United States Horror

It is London's account of his experiences as a hobo in the 1890s, during the worst economic depression the United States had experienced up to that time. He describes his experiences hopping freight trains, "holding down" a train when the crew is try...

The Jacket  Cover image

The Jacket

Murder Spirit Frame story Life Discovery Imprisonment

A framing story is told in the first person by Darrell Standing, a university professor serving life imprisonment in San Quentin State Prison for murder. Prison officials try to break his spirit by means of a torture device called "the jacket," a can...

The Cruise of the Snark  Cover image

The Cruise of the Snark

Adventure Memoir
Twentieth Century hunt Sea Voyage London Fun

The Cruise of the Snark is a non-fictional, illustrated book by Jack London chronicling his sailing adventure in 1907 across the south Pacific in his ketch the Snark. Accompanying London on this voyage was his wife Charmian London and a small crew. L...

The Mutiny of the Elsinore Cover image

The Mutiny of the Elsinore

Adventure Fiction Novel
Marine Action Romance Voyage Nautical London

The Mutiny of the Elsinore is a novel by the American writer Jack London first published in 1914. The novel is partially based on London's voyage around Cape Horn on the Dirigo in 1912. The character "De Casseres", who espouses nihilistic viewpoints...

The Scarlet Plague  Cover image

The Scarlet Plague

Fiction Novel
Fear Science Fiction Travel London Chemistry Pandemic

The Scarlet Plague is a post-apocalyptic fiction novel written by Jack London and originally published in London Magazine in 1912. The book was noted in 2020 as having been very similar to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially given London wrote it at a...

Theft Cover image


Play Thriller Suspense Espionage political Wealth

This is a political play which is set in Washington DC. Howard Knox is a congressman and believes that there are corrupt practices going on at the firm of a very wealthy industrialist. Knox is being helped by the industrialists daughter who is helpin...

Lost Face (and Other Stories) Cover image

Lost Face (and Other Stories)

Short Story Adventure Life Emotion Human Nature

It includes a total of eight short stories that revolve around themes of survival, adventure, and the human psyche. The collection was first published in 1910 and is considered to be one of London's best works of fiction. The stories in "Lost Face (...

Children of the Frost Cover image

Children of the Frost

Adventure Fiction
Nature Action Thriller Landscape Survival Fantasy Human Spirit

It is an adventurous and thrilling book that takes young readers on a journey through the frozen landscapes of the North. This book captivates readers with its vivid storytelling and vividly portrays the challenges faced by characters in extreme cond...

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