Jack London, one of the first adventure writers and one of the first American authors to make a living as a writer, was born into poverty in San Francisco, California, on January 12, 1876. He was born to a single mother at a time when that was still considered scandalous, though she married quickly and he took his mother’s husband’s last name. His unusual childhood seemingly impacted his personal life. London had a lifelong reputation as a womanizer, which appears to have been earned, and as an alcoholic, though that part of his reputation may not have been true. London’s life was colorful during his time period, and his death was even more colorful. Many people believe that he died of a drug overdose, though whether it was intentional or accidental is a continuing subject of debate. It is known that he had renal colic, which required the use of morphine for pain management, and this may have contributed to an overdose. On the other hand, a substantial portion of his work focused on the topic of suicide.
London was best known for his adventure writing, which is no surprise given that he lived in the West during a time of high adventure and went to the Klondike to try his hand at gold prospecting. Though he did not strike it rich in the gold rush, he garnered a lot of experience as an adventurer, which served as the basis for many of his stories. Two of his most famous stories, White Fang and The Call of the Wild, were set during the Klondike gold rush. Though the two novels are separate stories, they are often considered together because they show different sides of the same issue: the conflict between civilization and the wild. White Fang examines the domestication of a wild wolf dog, while The Call of the Wild depicts a domesticated dog that becomes wild. Interestingly, White Fang has never achieved the renown ofThe Call of the Wild.
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