The World of Jack London

THE PEOPLE OF THE ABYSS

"I assure you I found nothing worse, nothing more degrading,
nothing so hopeless, nothing nearly so intolerably dull and miserable
as the life I left behind me in the East End of London." – HUXLEY
Picture of Jack London dressed as a homeless person
The disguised identity of a stranded American sailor

This photo was taken in the East End of London, 1902 while Jack was doing research for a book on conditions there entitled The People of the Abyss. He swapped his clothes for a used outfit that would be keeping with his new identity of a stranded American sailor and merged into the life of the East Enders, venturing into Frying Pan Alley.

In his research Jack discovered that these people who lived in the slums did so not by choice and not through laziness, but because of old age, disease, or accidents that had reduced their labor value. Escape from the slums was next to impossible, for their tiny wages did not permit them to live elsewhere. They had no resources, no money, and no strength left. Slow starvation was the common end.

In eighty-six days he gathered an enormous amount of material, read hundreds of books and thousands of pamphlets, newpapers, and Parliamentary reports, composed his book, typed it all out, took two-thirds of the photographs with his own camera, took a short vacation in France, Germany, Italy, and other points in Europe, and landed in New York City with the complete manuscript of The People of the Abyss in his suitcase.

zackel's old photo restoration
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