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"...To burst all links of habit—there to wander far away. On from island unto island at the gateways of the day."
Preliminary Letter From Jack London Who is Going
Round the World for the Woman's Home Companion
July 18, 1906
Glen Ellen,
Sonoma County
California, U.S.A.

Dear Mr. Vance:

The building of the SNARK goes on apace; but the earthquake and fire have sadly delayed the work. Much of material and outfit that ordinarily could have been bought in San Francisco, I have been compelled to send for to New York. Also, frieght is slow these days, every merchant and builder is ordering new materials and stocks from the East, and the railroads are congested. Let me give an instance. The oak ribs for the boat were ordered from the East and arrived the day after the earthquake. For four solid weeks we searched California for the freight car containing these ribs before we found it. And so it has been with everything else.

And now, naturally, you want to know what I am going to do for you-------or, rather, for "The Woman's Home Companion." If we are boarded by pirates and fight it out till our deck becomes a shambles-------I won't write the account of same for "The Woman's Companion." If we are wrecked at sea, and starve and eat one another, I shall not send you harrowing details of same. Nor will I send you any account, if we are all killed and eaten by cannibals.

Joking aside, as I understand it, what you want me to give is the healthful, and interesting, and strong, and not the unpleasant, decadent, and repellant. I shall try to give what will be of interest to your readers. If I go astray, it's up to you to put me straight again. You'll be able to catch me by mail or cable. You see, I shall depend on you for this; for, while I realize that your readers would not be interested in the reading matter of a sporting weekly, I have not my finger as intimately on the pulse of your readers as you have. (I hope this isn't a mixed metaphor).

I expect to deal largely with the home-life of various peoples, with special attention to the part that is played by the women and children. I shall knock around a great deal in out-of-the-way places, and shall see ways of living undreamed of by your readers.

In addition to home-life in general, a number of topics occur to me, which I present for your consideration. If you don't like any of them, let me know. Here they are: Domestic problems; social structures; problems of living; cost of living, compared with same in United States; education; opportunities for advancement; general tone of peoples, culture, morals, religion, etc.; how they amuse themselves; the marriage and divorce problems; housekeeping; charities; and last but not least, the servant-girl problem.

But say, Mr. Vance-------now that I have nicely jotted down all the foregoing, suppose I shouldn't write a line on it? Suppose I should light upon things vastly more interesting to your readers, and write such things up? You see, I want latitude. Will you give it to me?

I imagine you know me well enough to guess that I'm no Cook's tourist. I have never liked to travel in the well-oiled groove-------even in dealing with editors. I've got to see things for myself, in my own way. I remember the way I arrived in Italy. On the train I met a Frenchman who spoke a little Italian and less English. We grew chummy. At Spezzio we were delayed by a train-wreck. We went sailing in the harbor, and on an Italian man-of-war became acquainted with a boatswain. The latter got shore liberty and proceeded to show us the town. Both he and the Frenchman were revolutionists. Birds of a feather, you know-------and by three in the morning there were a dozen of us, singing the Marseillaise and clashing with the police. Now I wouldn't write such an adventure for "The Woman's Home Companion," but you can bet I saw more in one night of the real human life of Spezzio than could a whole generation of tourists.

As you know, the SNARK is a small craft. She is forty-five feet long on the waterline, and at sea is to be propelled solely by the wind. Yet she is equipped with a seventy horse-power engine. When we strike the land, out go the masts, on goes the engine, and away we go up into the land. For instance, we plan to go up the Seine to Paris; up the Thames to London; up the Danube from the Black Sea to Vienna; up the Amazon and other big South A merican rivers; and in the United States, up the Hudson, along the Erie Canal and Great Lakes, and down the Missippi to the Gulf of Mexico. We expect to spend months on the canals of China, a summer at Venice, a winter at Naples, and certainly a winter at St. Petersburg. And because the boat is small and able to go up into land, I consider that I shall get in far more intimate touch with peoples and conditions than if I merely hung around the ports.

I guess my first article to you will be from Hawaii. Don't judge all my articles by what this one may be. It may be infinitely worse than the rest of the series, and it may be infinitely better. A writer is no more infallible than an editor when it comes to hitting the bulls-eye.

After Hawaii we sail for the Marquesas. Expect to fool around a lot in the South Seas. I'm sure we'll take in the pearl-fishing. (I'll wager I'll be able to give your readers some new wrinkles in the cooking of fish, meat and vegetables). Then we're sure to go to Samoa, New Zealand, Tasmania, and Australia. There's a field in itself for you!

I am sure we will do the Philippines, and I'm equally sure you'll be interested in them. Then there's Japan, and the women and children of Japan. I've already been twice to Japan, and believe me it requires more than two visits to take in all the beauty and wonder of the women and children. But life's too short to go on with my whole itinerary.

By the way-----[sic]fotos. I'll see that you get plenty of good photographs. Incidentally, I am myself taking along only four cameras, and I know how to use them too.

If you get ideas, or if your readers suggest to you ideas, concerning things to write about, send them along-------the ideas, I mean. Of course you can't bully me into writing what I don't want to write-------but your ideas will receive serious attention, and I am confident, if you are not parsimonious, that you will be able to give me many valuable suggestions.

In conclusion, your readers are your clients, while I am my own client. I understand that you're a regular Cerberus. That's all right, but I'm not going to throw any sops to you. I'm not going to ask you not to revise my stuff. If you promised you wouldn't, I know you'd revise it anyway-------of such stuff are editors made. I'll deliver the goods, without-swear words (in the text), and do you fulfill your divinely appointed task of protecting your readers. But for goodness' sake don't turn all my good red blood to water.

Faithfully yours,

Source: This article is a reprint from a November, 1906 issue of Woman's Home Companion.

Read: The Cruise of the Snark

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