“I write for no other purpose than to add to the beauty that now belongs to me.” – Jack London
A tireless writer, London was a novelist, journalist, and social activist who was a pioneer in the then-burgeoning world of commercial magazine fiction. He also became one of the first fiction writers to obtain worldwide celebrity and a large fortune from his fiction alone.
Born on this date in 1876, he is best known today for books like Call of the Wild and White Fang. But during his relatively short lifetime (he died of mysterious causes at age 40), he was equally well known for his adventurous lifestyle and support of the causes of the everyday workingman. His books The People of the Abyss and The War of the Classes not only made bestseller lists but also were polarizing tomes in the early part of the 20th century.
A native of the West (his San Francisco home burned during the devastating 1906 earthquake), he worked as a seaman and gold prospector before starting writing as a correspondent for the San Francisco Examiner, which then hired him to do reporting from war zones like the 1904 Russo-Japanese war. That writing led to his work as a short story writer for magazines and becoming known for his raucous lifestyle.
“London's true métier was the short story ... London's true genius lay in the short form, 7,500 words and under,” wrote Western Historian Dale Walker. His story To Build A Fire is considered a masterpiece of the genre.
“I would rather be known as a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.”
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