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NA206012 - LONDON, J.: White Fang (Abridged)
Jack London was born on January 12, 1876 in San Francisco. His mother was Flora Wellman, a spiritualist, and his father — her common-law husband, William Henry Chaney — was a traveling astrologer. In September 1876, Flora married John London and Jack took his name.
London grew up in poverty. The family moved to Oakland in 1878, traveling on to Alameda in 1881, and two farms before ending up back in Oakland in 1886. Here, London’s mother ran a boarding house and he himself helped out by working as a newspaper boy, in a bowling alley and on an ice wagon. At this time, thanks to the Oakland Public Library, he became an avid reader.
After leaving school, London worked in a cannery, as an oyster pirate in San Francisco Bay, as a deputy patrolman for the California Fish Patrol, and as an able-bodied seaman on a ship to Hawaii, Japan and the Bering Sea. After this voyage, he worked in a jute mill for 10 cents an hour.
In 1893 London’s story, Story of a Typhoon off the Coast of Japan won
first prize in a competition for young writers sponsored by the ‘San Francisco Morning Call’.
In 1894 London joined ‘Kelly’s Army’ — the Western part of ‘Coxey’s Industrial Army of the Unemployed’ — which was marching on Washington D.C. After this, London was arrested in Buffalo, New York, for vagrancy, and spent 30 days in jail. On his release, he returned to Oakland via Canada.
In 1896, London joined the Socialist Labour Party. Later that year he entered the University of California at Berkeley, but in 1897 he joined the Klondike Gold Rush. He married in 1900.
In 1902 London lived in the East End of London; his experiences there resulted in The People of the Abyss (1903).
When The Call of the Wild was published, in 1903, it was an immediate
success, and it has been translated into nearly ninety languages. London’s other novels, The Sea-Wolf was published in 1904, and White Fang in 1906.
Jack London’s love life was as colorful as his writing: he left his wife in 1903 and had a passionate affair with the author Anna Strunsky, before
marrying Charmain Kittredge in 1905. For the rest of his life, London traveled extensively, continuing to write and to be politically active. He died in 1916.
Notes by Lesley Young.
Garrick Hagon has appeared in many films including Batman, Star Wars, Cry Freedom, Anthony and Cleopatra, and Fatherland. His television credits include A Perfect Spy, The Nightmare Years, Henry V, The Chief, and Love Hurts. On London's West End he played Chris Keller in "All My Sons", and he is a frequent story reader for the BBC.
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