Jack London was easily the most successful and best-known writer in America in the early 20th century. He lived a hectic and extraordinary life which was a great example of the American rags-to-riches dream.
Jack London was born in 1876, in San Francisco, California, and his real name was John Griffith Chaney. Born into poverty, Jack London had a tough childhood. As an 11-year-old, he had to work 12-hour shifts at a factory to support his family.
He grew up into a fearless, daredevil teen. At 15, Jack bought a small boat and became an oyster pirate on the San Francisco Bay, making good money by selling his illegal haul to restaurants.
At 17, he got hired as a sailor on a fishing ship. The crew encountered a violent typhoon near Japan’s coast, and after returning home, Jack wrote his first story inspired by his experience of surviving a typhoon. His mother encouraged Jack to submit his essay to a local newspaper. He won the writing contest and received a $25 dollar prize.
In 1897, Jack spent 11 months in the Yukon, hoping to make a fortune during the Klondike Gold Rush. He barely survived the harsh Alaskan winter and came back broke, but this dangerous adventure inspired him to write “The Call of the Wild”, his most famous book and the one that made him a best-selling author.
But his adventures didn’t end there. In 1904, he was covering the Russo-Japanese war as a war correspondent in Korea and got arrested by the Japanese three times.
A few years later, he and his wife Charmian built the yacht Snark, to sail around the world. Curious fact: the crew turned out to be incompetent, and Jack had to learn navigation himself. Unfortunately, they only managed to sail across the South Pacific, when the whole crew fell down with tropical diseases and fever and the exciting voyage had to end there.
All those travels, adventures, misfortunes and meeting new people shaped London as an author and filled his novels with the spirit of adventure, courage and love of life.