The Life and Times of Jack London
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The Snark voyage made it as far as the South Pacific and Australia but was curtailed due to ill health. Discouraged by health problems and heartbroken about having to abandon the trip and sell the Snark, the Londons returned to the ranch in Glen Ellen. Between and London purchased adjoining farms and in he moved from Glen Ellen to a small wood frame house in the middle of his holdings.
This Cottage and adjoining Stone Dining Room can be toured at the Park, a touchstone to the early 20th-century life Jack and Charmian enjoyed at the ranch.
Biographies of Jack London
On horseback, Jack explored every canyon, glen and hilltop. He threw himself into the farming fad of the period, scientific agriculture, believing this to be a truly justifiable, basic and idealistic means of making a living. A significant portion of his later writing— Burning Daylight , Valley of the Moon and Little Lady of the Big House —centered on the simple pleasures of country life, the satisfaction of making a living from the land and remaining close to nature.
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That night, a ranch hand noticed a glow in the sky half a mile away. Wolf House was burning. By the time the Londons arrived by horseback the house was ablaze, the tile roof had collapsed, and even a stack of lumber some distance away was burning. Nothing could be done. London looked at the fire philosophically, but the loss was a crushing financial blow and the end of a long-cherished dream.
Rumors abounded about the cause of the fire. In a group of forensic fire experts visited the site and concluded that the fire resulted from spontaneous combustion in a pile of linseed oil-soaked rags left by workers.
London planned to rebuild Wolf House, but at the time of his death in the house remained as it stands today, the stark but eloquent vestige of a shattered dream. The loss of Wolf House left London depressed, but he forced himself to go back to work. He spent time living and working aboard his foot yawl, the Roamer , which he sailed around San Francisco Bay and the nearby Sacramento and San Joaquin deltas. In and , Charmian persuaded her husband to spend time in Hawaii, a relaxing and healthful respite for the two of them.
His ambitious plans to expand the ranch and increase productivity kept him in debt and under pressure to write as fast as he could, even though this might mean sacrificing quality for quantity.
He continued to push to complete words per day regardless of his location, duties, or health. If anything, the pressure of his financial commitments to helping friends and relatives and his increasingly severe health problems only made him dream larger dreams and work harder and faster. On November 22, , year-old Jack London died of gastrointestinal uremic poisoning. He had been suffering from a variety of ailments, including a kidney condition, but up to the last day of his life he was full of bold plans and boundless enthusiasm for the future.
Words of grief poured into the telegraph office in Glen Ellen from all over the world. The untimely death of this most popular of American fictionists has profoundly shocked a world that expected him to live and work for many years longer. Nevertheless, many of his life experiences were more exciting than his fiction. No man has ever loved to sail more than Jack London. Even as a very young boy, fishing with his stepfather in small boats, his head would fill with visions of tropical islands and faraway places.
Jack London: His Life and Work
As he grew up, he occasionally rented boats with money earned from his many part-time jobs. Realizing that the life of an oyster pirate frequently ended in prison or death, he reformed and became a California Fish Patrol deputy. Jack moved into a cabin and staked a claim on Henderson Creek in early November of , after a month of prospecting. During the long winter which followed, he became well-known to his fellow prospectors for his storytelling ability. In May , he developed a severe case of scurvy from lack of fresh fruit and vegetables; he could no longer work his claim. Desperately needing immediate medical attention, he anxiously awaited the melting of the ice blocking the Yukon River.
He eventually did receive some medical help but was advised to return home. On June 28, he arrived in St.
Michael, after making his way in a small boat down 1, miles of the Yukon River. From St. Michael, he sailed home. Jack London gained a tremendous amount of insight and perspective while in Alaska and the Klondike [in Canada]. Although he had not discovered much gold, he had uncovered a Mother Lode of experience from which he would draw material for his future novels and stories.
Upon his return to Oakland, California, he discovered that his stepfather, John London, had died. At the age of 22, he now shouldered the responsibility of supporting his mother and his stepnephew. Despite tackling every job opening possible, he could not find steady work. In desperation, he sold many of his belongings and dove into writing.
He was talented and prolific, yet at first all of his manuscripts were rejected.
Jack London - Wikipedia
His writing career was launched. Betwen my legs is a beautiful horse.
The air is wine. The grapes on a score of rolling hills are red with autumn flame. Across Sonoma Mountain, wisps of sea fog are stealing. The afternoon sun smolders in the drowsy sky. I have everything to make me glad I am alive. Jack loved ranch life. At Beauty Ranch, he raised many animals such as prize bulls, horses, and pigs.
He cultivated a wide variety of crops, including forty acres of wine grapes which were formerly part of the Kohler-Frohling Winery. By damming a stream that crossed the property, Jack built a lake for irrigation and recreation. He introduced terracing and green water mulching. He produced record yields of oat hay on acreage that had been considered overfarmed. He imported thousands of Australian eucalyptus trees hoping the wood could be used for hardwood lumber and pier pilings, but the wood was found to be too soft.