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The World of Jack London


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1876 0 Born at 615 Third Street, San Francisco, California, January 12. Son of Flora Wellman, (born Massillon, Ohio, August 17, 1843) and William Henry Chaney (born near present-day Chesterville, Maine, January 13, 1821). Chaney, an itinerant astrologer, lived with Flora Wellman during 1874-1875, Chaney deserted his common-law wife upon learning of her pregnancy and later (1897) denied to London that he could have been his father.
On Sept. 7, Flora (who used the name Chaney), marries John London, a native of Pennsylvania and Union Army veteran, a widower with two daughters. John London accepts Flora's son as his own and he is renamed John Griffith Chaney, the middle name deriving from a favorite nephew of Flora Wellman's, Griffith Everhard.
18793 John London (Jack's stepfather) moved his family to Oakland, CA. where he operated a truck garden on a parcel of land near the present Emeryville, CA.
18815 John London moved his family to a twenty acre Davenport place in Alameda, CA. John Griffith London (Jack) enrolled in West End school, Alameda, CA. Also has first experience with alcohol.
18826 Started grade school in Alameda.
18837 January John London moved his family to the Tobin Ranch, San Mateo County, CA. where they raise a few horses and plants potatoes.
18859 John London buys 87 acre ranch in Livermore, CA. – Johnny discovers the world of books upon reading Ouida's Signa and Irving's Tales of the Alhambra   –   Photo of Jack and his dog Rollo.
188610 March 27th, family bought a house in Oakland after living on farms in San Mateo County and Livermore. Discovered the Oakland public library would supply him with books; meets librarian Ina Coolbrith who helps him choose the right books for his inquisitive, but young mind.
188711 Johnny enrolls at the Oakland Cole Grammar School, West Oakland, CA.
189014 Jack obtained a steady job in a salmon cannery at ten cents an hour.
189115 Graduated from Cole Grammar School (eighth grade) and took job in cannery. Borrowed $300 from his former wet nurse, Aunt Jenny Prentiss to buy the sloop Razzle Dazzle and became an oyster pirate on San Francisco Bay.
189216 Becomes a member of the Fish Patrol and stayed in Benicia, CA. – Later in the year, Jack returned from Benicia to his parents new residence, 915 Park Way, Oakland, CA.
189317 Signed on as able-bodied seaman on the Sophia Sutherland, a three-masted sealing schooner January 20th – served eight months. – Writes story Typhoon of the Coast of Japan first story ever written by Jack London for publication.
189418 Joins General Kelly's Army marching to Washington D.C. Leaves army march – becomes a hobo and traveled much of the U.S. and Canada – tramps to Niagara Falls. Thrown in Erie County Penitentiary in Buffalo, N.Y. for vagrancy 30 days at hard labor. Wrote a book in 1907, The Road, based on these experiences.
189519 At nineteen he entered Oakland High School. Writes essays and short stories for the Oakland High School Aegis
189620 Crams for entrance exams nineteen hours a day. During April he joined the Socialist Labor Party. On August 10th, started the three-day entrance exams. September enters the University of California at Berkeley for one semester.
189721 Leaves University due to a lack of financial resources. Buried his frustrations in a frenzy of socialist activity and writing. Wrote essays, poems and short stories. Sails on the Umatilla to join the goldrush in the Klondike. In September short story Two Gold Bricks published in The Owl magazine (unknown to London) – John London dies in Oakland on October 14.
189822 Returns to Oakland in July from Yukon because illness (Scurvy). Found step-father had died, immediately resolves to support mother by serious writing and to educate himself. Began writing nineteen hours a day. Submitted A Thousand Deaths to The Black Cat magazine, it was published May, 1899    [ Go read article ]
189923 Turns down job at post office. Jack's busiest year, wrote sixty-one new stories, jokes, poems, essays, triolets, etc. Made first sell to Overland Monthly, To the Man on the Trail He sold eight stories to Overland Monthly for seven dollars and fifty cents. Begins writing for a living. December: Met Anna Strunsky. Correspondence with Cloudesley Johns and Anna Strunsky.
190024 "An Odyssey of the North" is published in The Atlantic Monthly. April 7, married Bessie May Maddern. About this same time, he met Charmian Kittredge. Published his first book. The Son of the Wolf – First published An Odyssey of the North in the Atlantic Monthly January
190125 Daughter Joan is born January 15th. – Working on stories for The Children of the Frost – December 15th finishes To Build A Fire and mails to Youth's Companion
190226 Aug 6th arrives in England to research and write a book called, The People of the Abyss about the slums of East End in London. – Sept 28th the book is finished. – Oct 20th Bess London is born. – Dec. 1st starts writing The Call of the Wild as a short story but can't find a place to stop.
190327 January 26, submitted The Call of the Wild to the Saturday Evening Post. – W. H. Chaney dies on January 8. – Visited Glen Ellen and separates from his wife Bessie Maddern – Published The Kempton-Wace Letters collaborated with Anna Strunsky, also People of the Abyss published
190428 The Sea Wolf serialized in The Century Magazine – Went to Far East as war correspondent for the San Francisco Examiner to cover Russo-Japanese War – Bessie files for divorce – August 18, Jack goes to Annual High Jinks at the Bohemian Grove
190529 June 2nd, Jack and Charmian go see the Hill Ranch. – June 7, pays $500.00 down on Hill Ranch, the first of seven land purchases making up his Beauty Ranch. – Jack and Charmian marry Nov. 19th in Chicago the day after the divorce from Bessie London became final. – Published War of the Classes, The Game, and Tales of the Fish Patrol
190630 January 11th, returns from honeymoon in Jamaica. Contracts with a shipbuilder to begin building his sailing ship, the Snark. Reports on the great San Francisco Earthquake for Collier's Magazine as special Correspondent.
190731 April 23rd, sets sail from Oakland to Honolulu on first leg of their around the world cruise aboard the Snark   –  Eventually sets sail for Marquesas Islands and Tahiti. – Published Before AdamLove of Life and Other StoriesThe Road
190832 Cruising in the South Pacific. – Jack and Charmian go to Sydney, Australia for medical treatment. – Dec. 8th, Jack calls off cruise of the Snark because of severe health problems and decides he needs his native climate to recover. – Dec. buys the 127 acre La Motte ranch. – Published The Iron Heel
190933 Leaves Australia by steamship on April 7th, arrives in Oakland July 21st. – Buys the 24 acre Caroline Kohler ranch – Buys the 9 acre Fish ranch. – Published partially autobiographical novel, Martin Eden
191034 Jack hires his stepsister Eliza London Shepard as ranch superintendent. In May buys the 700 acre Kohler and Frohling ranch. – June 13th, Charmian enters hospital to deliver first child. Baby girl named Joy is taken from her, 38 hours later it dies. – Published Burning DaylightRevolution and Other EssaysLost Face, and Theft: A Play in Four Acts
191135 Work began on Wolf House in April, took more than 2 years to build. – May 12th, buys 12 acre K and F Winery (buildings). – Drove wagon and four horses to Oregon and back. – Published When God Laughs and Other Stories – Adventure –  The Cruise of the Snark – South Sea Tales
191236 March 2 – July 26 sail around the Horn from Baltimore to Seattle aboard the Dirigo, a 148-day voyage. – Published The House of Pride and Other Tales of Hawaii – A Son of the Sun, and Smoke Bellew – The London's second baby lost in miscarriage.
191337 January 20th, buys the 400 acre Freund ranch. – July 8th has appendectomy, performed by Dr. Porter. After the operation the doctor tells him his kidneys are in bad shape. – August 22, Wolf House destroyed by fire. – Published The Night Born – The Abysmal Brute –  John Barleycorn, and The Valley of the Moon
191438 April 24 Jack left for Vera Cruz on the U.S. Army Transport Kilpatrick to report on the Mexican Revolution. Since there was no war, he was once more deprived of the opportunity to show his ability as a war correspondent. – Wrote article for Colliers magazine Mexico's Army and Ours – Published The Strength of the Strong –  The Mutiny of the Elsinore – September 23rd the London's cruise on Sacramento River aboard the Roamer until January 29, 1915
191539 Arrive in Honolulu, Hawaii March 2nd. – Sail aboard the S.S. Sonoma for San Francisco on July 18th. – Sails once again on December 16th for Hilo, Hawaii. – Published The Scarlet Plague and The Star Rover
191640 Resigns from the Socialist Party "because of its lack of fire and fight, and its loss of emphasis on the class struggle." – July 26 Jack and Charmian sail back to San Francisco on the Matsonia. – Published The Acorn-Planter: A California Forest Play – The Little Lady of the Big House, and The Turtles of Tasman – Jack London died at the ranch he so cherished on November 22nd at the age of forty. He left behind a legacy of stirring fiction. Read the probable cause of London's death
Ranch Parcels
Jack bought six ranches in order to have enough acres to run a ranch. The Hill Ranch was bought first. The Lamotte Ranch was bought later. The Kohler-Frohling and Kathryn Kohler ranches were bought to tie the other two together. The Fish Ranch was bought for Ninetta Eames. The Freund Ranch was bought for the water and pastures.

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Jenny Prentiss
Because Johnny's mother, Flora, was unable to nurse the baby Johnny, her doctor advised a wet nurse and suggested Alonzo Prentiss who had recently lost her baby in childbirth. He stayed with Mrs. Prentiss (Aunt Jennie) at 15 Priest Street on Knob Hill until he was weaned. Read more on Jennie Prentiss

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John Griffith Chaney
Source: Kingman, Russ. A Pictorial Life of Jack London. NY: Crown Publishers, 1979. (By permission)
It was wedding day for Flora Wellman Chaney and John London on September 7, 1876. Flora's eight month-old son, John Griffith Chaney, was present. From that moment on he knew real father-love, but never knew who his real father was. For about fourteen years he used the name John London—Johnny at home—but after that he was known to the world as Jack London.

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