I was born in SanFrancisco in 1876. Most of my childhood I was very poor. I had to help my parents earna living by doing odd jobs. I delivered papers, worked on ice-wagons, cleaned up bowling alleys, helped in the cannery and only made ten cents an hour.
I usually workedten hours a day. I learned what it was like being a member of the working-class and Ialways had a distaste for its drudgery. I kept telling myself, “Jack, some day you will berich. ” I loved to read and often borrowed books of adventure, travel, and sea voyages. At fourteen, I left school to lead a wandering and adventurous life, so I thought.
Jobswere hard to find but I was employed by the fish patrol in San Francisco Bay. Imaginehopping on every boat that pulls into the bay and counting the number of fish on boardand having to write fines to the sailors that had too many fish. This sure wasn’t a popularjob in the bay area. I was smart enough to figure I could be on the other side of the lawand rob and steal vessels so I became an oyster pirate.
I had a real passion for the sea and so in 1893 I took a job as a common sailor aboarda sealing vessel that ventured as far as Japan. This lasted about a year. When I returnedback to the bay area I drifted from job to job. I told you I liked to wander. I left the bay and headed for New York City. I went onthe road and lived as a tramp.
Without any place to stay I was soon jailed for vagrancy. I spent one month in jail and there I realized I needed to make something of myself. Ireturned to California and to school. My reading continued. Rudyard Kipling andRobert Louis Stevenson became my liteary gods and Darwin, Herbert Spencer, andKarl Marx made me a Socialist.
I began writing while in college but could not find amarket for my writings. In the mid-1897’s I joined the Klondike gold rush. I packed 8,000 pounds of suppliesand books to take with me. After a year I became very ill and had to return home withouthaving mined an ounce of gold. Upon my return to the San Francisco area, I began towrite about my experiences.
My stories finally began to be accepted by magazines. Myfirst collection of short stories, The Son of the Wolf, was bought and published in 1900by Houghton Mifflin for $500. I was so excited to have made money from my writings, Idevoted every minute to telling my colorful life. I wrote more than 50 books and mademore than a million dollars on them.
My first best selling novel was The Call of the Wild. In this novel I included my adventure of the Klondikes. The story dealt with the reversion of a civilized creature tothe primitive state. On assignment to cover the Russo-Japanese War I was stranded inLondon and lived in the poverty-stricken East End. I gathered materials for my novel,People of the Abyss.
I became popular outside the United States and my works weretranslated into eleven languages. My dream had become a reality. I was now verywealthy. I built a fantastic castle but had to write incessantly to meet my bills.
I wrote The Sea Wolf based on my experiences on the sealing vessel. John Barleycorn became a novel about my struggles with alcoholism. My style-brutal, vivid,and exciting was set in localities where the struggle could be most obvious: in the wildsof Alaska, on remote Pacific Islands, on ships at sea, in industrial communities duringstrikes, and in the underworlds of various cities. These were the places I recounted myexperiences. My life was very stormy. I had two unhappy marriages, a problem with alcohol, afire that destroyed my castle before it was finished, and many bills to pay.
So at the age of 40, I ended my own life. ————————————————————–