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At age 14 he quit school to escape poverty and gain adventure. He explored San Francisco Bay in his sloop , alternately stealing oysters or working for the government fish patrol.

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He went to Japan as a sailor and saw much of the United States as a hobo riding freight trains and as a member of Charles T. London saw depression conditions, was jailed for vagrancy, and in became a militant socialist. London educated himself at public libraries with the writings of Charles Darwin , Karl Marx , and Friedrich Nietzsche , usually in popularized forms. At 19 he crammed a four-year high school course into one year and entered the University of California , Berkeley, but after a year he quit school to seek a fortune in the Klondike gold rush.

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Returning the next year, still poor and unable to find work, he decided to earn a living as a writer. London studied magazines and then set himself a daily schedule of producing sonnets , ballads , jokes, anecdotes , adventure stories, or horror stories , steadily increasing his output. The optimism and energy with which he attacked his task are best conveyed in his autobiographical novel Martin Eden Within two years, stories of his Alaskan adventures began to win acceptance for their fresh subject matter and virile force.

His first book, The Son of the Wolf: Tales of the Far North , a collection of short stories that he had previously published in magazines, gained a wide audience.

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During the remainder of his life, London wrote and published steadily, completing some 50 books of fiction and nonfiction in 17 years. Although he became the highest-paid writer in the United States at that time, his earnings never matched his expenditures, and he was never freed of the urgency of writing for money.


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He maintained his socialist beliefs almost to the end of his life. His Alaskan novels The Call of the Wild , White Fang , and Burning Daylight , in which he dramatized in turn atavism, adaptability, and the appeal of the wilderness, are outstanding. In addition to Martin Eden , he wrote two other autobiographical novels of considerable interest: The Road and John Barleycorn Other important novels are The Sea-Wolf , which features a Nietzschean superman hero, Humphrey Van Weyden, who battles the vicious Wolf Larsen ; and The Iron Heel , a fantasy of the future that is a terrifying anticipation of fascism.

But his popularity remained high throughout the world after World War II , especially in Russia, where a commemorative edition of his works published in was reported to have been sold out in five hours.


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    Jack London

    Return to Book Page. Autobiography of Jack London by Stephan Brennan. Jack London has been a best-selling author for more than one hundred years. In his short life — he wrote twenty-five novels and dozens of short stories, plays, and essays. Author of a number of well-known and well-loved stories in our literature Jack London has been a best-selling author for more than one hundred years.

    He was also an adventurer, journalist, celebrity, polemicist, and drunk. This book is illustrated throughout with more than forty drawings, facsimile pages from his works, and contemporary photographs, many taken by London himself.


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