By Michael J Metcalf
What could we say of a man who knew all of the good and bad things of the life? What could we say of a restless spirit who looked for peace and for fight at the same time? What could we say of Jack London, author, wanderer and pirate? Nothing… and everything, since he had to know the essence of humanity.
Some people spend their lives obeying rules, some others without questioning their dreams; Jack London always put his thoughts into practice.
Jack London was born in the sunny California (San Francisco). We know his mother (Flora Wellman) but his father is unknown, also to him (maybe the astrologer William Chaney). Therefore, from the beginning he had to confront the biggest problem for a child: where are my roots? And, also, the greatest shame of the 19th century: to be an illegitimate child.
Poor and autodidact, he spent hours in public libraries. One day, he read the novel ‘Signa’ by Ouida and he identified with the main character: an illiterate Italian farmer who got success as musician: he could get success as a writer.
Then, all of his life he tried to go to the University. He gained some money working as sailor and travelling to Japan, he attended to the Oakland High School and entered in the University of California in 1896, but he had to leave it soon due to economic problems.
He was a pirate in his own oyster boat (it seems he had stolen the money to buy it) and after the ruin of the boat, a decent drunker oyster fisherman in other boats.
Constantly, he had problems with the law. We know he spend 30 days in the prison (in Erie County in Buffalo), as an industrial worker and socialist, he participated in numerous violent protests, and he was accused of plagiarism several times.
However, when he started to earn money with his books, he bought a big wonderful rancho in Glen Ellen (California) and started to behave as a landowner and to study agronomy (he had interesting ecological ideas).
Contradictory to the end, Jack London is the author of some master books: ‘The Call of the Wild’, ‘The Game’, ‘The Valley of the Moon’, ‘The Mutiny of the Elsinore’… but in his last years, he produced silly novels or short stories, only to earn money and worrier to his rancho than to the quality of his texts. Even, his elder daughter, Joan London, recognized this point.
He married twice because, of course, he had to know the pain of a divorce and he died in strange circumstances, victim of a strong medication or because he committed suicide.
He is buried beside his second wife, Charmian London, in Glen Ellen. Only a green stone signaled the place.