Jack London

100 years ago today, Jack London, American author and activist, died at age 40 in California. London is best known for his tales of the Klondike Gold Rush, including the novel The Call of the Wild and the oft-anthologized short story “To Build a Fire.” He was a prolific writer who wrote nearly two dozen novels, numerous poems, essays, and pieces of journalism, and even a couple of plays.


Special Collections owns a good number of first editions of London’s novels and books and pamphlets on socialism and labor activism, as well as first printings of stories in magazines like McClure’s. This photo depicts just a small sampling of the holdings in our vaults!

Jack London has a minor Mormon connection: at age 10, he met Ina Coolbrith, who was a librarian at the Oakland public library. Coolbrith, a niece of the prophet Joseph Smith who would later become California’s poet laureate, took young Jack under her wing and encouraged his reading and writing. He would later remember her as a sort of “literary godmother.”

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