Jack London


Jack London was born January 12, 1876 in San Francisco California. Jack’s parents’ were Flora Wellman and William Chaney. Flora had grown up wealthy in Ohio. As a child Flora was stricken with thyroid fever which stunned her growth and ruined her looks. In June 1874 Flora started living with astrologer William Chaney. In the summer of 1875 when Flora told Chaney that she was pregnant Chaney panicked and told Flora to leave his home at once. Flora took an overdose of opium. When that failed, Flora shot herself in the head, but missed. Flora’s depression kept led her into a mental institution. Six months later, on January 12, 1876, Flora gave birth to her son, whom she named John Griffith Chaney. Flora was too sick to care for her child. She sent the boy to live with Virginia Prentiss. Prentiss, was a friend who did not have any children. Flora needed this time to rebuild her life and start anew. Within the year she married Civil War veteran John London.
John London had two daughters Eliza and Ida. In September of 1876 Flora went and retrieved her son, and changed his name to Jack London. Jack London grew up believing that John London was his father. Jack later found out that William Chaney the astrologer was his father, and decided to write him a letter asking him who his natural father is. In Jack’s early years his stepfather John was a salesman for Singer Sewing Machines. John London however could not walk very much to sell these machines. In the Civil War John’s lungs were damaged. Since John could not walk very much to make a living, John moved his family across California to Oakland where he tried his hand in farming. Oakland is where Jack first attended school. When Jack first attended school the first thing he did was learn to read. From then on Jack read a lot. At the age of seven Jack had his first encounter with alcohol. While taking a pail of beer to his stepfather he decided to taste it and one sip lead to the next and by the time Jack arrived near his father, he was sick to his stomach. Jack later became an alcoholic and wrote a book referring to his first brush with alcohol called “John Barleycorn.” As a child the London’s moved a numerous amount of times. Jack, lived on a farm, so there were many chores to do. When he had spare time, Jack, read. Books, came to be Jacks closest companion and biggest passion. . Jack, was in his early teens , when he first dreamed of having a spacious home with one room set aside with walls of books.
During Jack’s early teens he also dreams of sailing the seven seas, but as his stepfathers health fails he is needed at home. In 1891 Jack decided to become an oyster pirate to help with the families finances. He enjoyed being an oyster pirate, but this doesn’t last to long. As a pirate he started drinking. This started Jack London’s alcohol problems. As Jack started drinking suicide was always in his head. One night Jack was so drunk that he went into a alcohol-induced coma. This made Jack decide to quit the oyster business. Jack than became more interested in writing. Jack’s first writing piece earned him twenty five dollars. Jack went in debt again and decided to live like a bum. The police arrested him, because they thought he was a vagrant, Jack was immediately sent to prison. Jack wrote about his experience in prison in his book “The Road.”
Shortly after being released from prison he returned home and entered Oakland High School enrolling in the winter class of 1897. As Jack entered high school he had the determination to become a very educated student. Jack London started studying nineteen hours a day. Jack continued to read a lot. He began reading the philosophical works of Karl Marx, John Ruskin and Herbert Spencer. Spencer, who celebrated individualism and, adopting the ideas of scientist Charles Darwin, advanced the brutal theory of “survival of the fittest.”, was one of London’s favorites. John attended high-school for a few weeks and then decided to