Jack London,

                                            962 East 16th.st.,

                                                 Oakland, Calif.,

                                                      Jan. 31, 1900.

     Houghton, Mifflin & Co.,


          In reply to yours of January 25th.  requesting additional

xxxx biographical data.  I see I shall have to piece out my previous

narrative, which, in turn, will make this choppy.

               My father was Pennsylvania-born, a soldier, scout,

backwoodsman, trapper, and wanderer.  My mother was born in Ohio.  Both

came west independently, meeting and marrying in San Francisco, where I

was born January 12, 1876.  What little city life I then passed was in

my babyhood.  My life, from my fourth to my ninth years, was spent upon

California ranches.  I learned to read and write about my fifth year,

though I do not remember anything about it.  I always could read and

write, and have no recollection antedating such a condition. Folks say

I simply insisted upon being taught.   Was an omniverous reader, prin-

cipally because reading matter was scarce and I had to be grateful for

whatever fell into my hands.  Remember reading some of Trowbridge's

works for boys at six years of age.  At seven I was reading Paul du

Chaillu's Travels, Captain Cook's Voyages, and Life of Garfield.  And

all through this Period I devoured what Seaside Library novels I could

borrow from the womenfolk and dime novels from the farm hands. At eight

I was deep in Ouida and Washington Irving.  Also during this period read

a great deal of American history.  Also, life on a California ranch is

not very nourishing to the imagination.

               Somewhere around my ninth year we removed to Oakland,

which, to-day, I believe, is a town of about  eighty thousand, and is

removed by xxxx  thirty minutes from the heart of San Francisco.  Here,


most precious to me was a free library.  Since that time Oakland has

been my home seat.  Here my father died, and here I yet live with my

mother.  I have not married---the world is too large and its call too


               However, from my ninth year, with the exception of the

hours spent at school(and I earned them by hard labor), my life has been

one of toil.  It is worthless to give the long sordid list of occupat-

ions, none of them trades, all heavy manual labor.  Of course I con-

tinued to read.  Was never without a book.  My education was popular,

graduating from the grammar school at about fourteen.  Took a taste for

the water.  At fifteen left home and went upon a Bay life.  San Fran-

cisco Bay is no mill pond by the way.   I was a salmon fisher, an oyster

pirate, a schooner sailor, a fish patrolman, a longshoresman, and a

general sort of bay-faring adventurer---a boy in years and a man

amongst men.  Always a book, and always reading when the rest were

asleep; when they were awake I was one with them, for I was always a

good comrade.

               Within a week of my seventeenth birthday I shipped be-

fore the mast as sailor on a three top-mast sealing schooner.  We went

to Japan and hunted along the coast north to the Russian side of Bering

Sea.  This was my longest voyage; I could not again endure one of such

length; not because it was tedious or long, but because life was so

short.  However, I have made short voyages, too brief to mention, and

to-day am at home in any forecastle or stokehole---good comradeship, you

know.  I believe this comprises my travels; for I spoke at length in

previous letter concerning my tramping and Klondiking.  Have been all

over Canada, Northwest Ty. Alaska, etc. etc, at different times, be-

sides mining, prospecting and wandering through the Sierra Nevadas.

               I have outlined my education.  In the main I am self-

educated; have had no mentor but myself.  High school or college

curriculums I simply selected from, finding it impossible to follow the

rut---life and pocket book were both too short.  I attended the first


first year of high school(Oakland), then stayed at home, without

coaching, and crammed the next two years into three months and took the

entrance examinations, and entered the University of California at

Berkeley.  Was forced, much against my inclinations, to give this over

just prior to the completion of my Freshman Year.

               My father died while I was in the Klondike, and I return-

ed home to take up the reins.

               As to literary work:  My first magazine article( I had

done no newspaper work), was published in January, 1899; it is now the

sixth story in the " Son of the Wolf ".  Since then I have done work for

the Overland Monthly, the Atlantic, the Wave, the Arena, the Youth's

Companion, the Review of Reviews, etc. etc., besides a host of lesser

publications, and to say nothing of newspaper and syndicate work.

Hackwork all, or nearly so, from a comic joke or triolet to pseudo-

scientific disquisitions upon things about which I know nothing.  Hack-

work for dollars, that's all, setting aside practically all ambitious

efforts to some future period of less financial stringency.    This, my

literary life is just thirteen months old to-day.

               Naturally, my reading early bred in me a desire to

write, but my manner of life prevented me attempting it.  I have had no

literary help or advice of any kind---just been sort of hammering around

in the dark till I knocked holes thorugh here and there and caught

glimpses of daylight.  Common knowledge of magazine methids, etc., came

to me asma revelation.  Not a soul to say here you arr and there you


               Of course, during my revolutionaire period I perpetrated

my opinions upon the public through the medium of the local papers,grat-

is.  But that was years ago when I went to high school and was  more

notorious than esteemed.  Once, by the way, returned from my sealing

voyage, I won a prize essay of twenty-five dollars from a San Francisco

paper over the heads of Stanford and California Universities, both of


which were represented by second and third place through their under-

graduates.  This gave me hope for achieving something ultimately.

               After my tramping trip I started to high school in 1895,

I entered the University of California in 1896.  Thus, had I continued,

   I would be just now preparing to take my sheepskin.

               As to studies:  I am always studying.  The aim of the

university is simply to prepare one fore a whole future life of study.  I

have been denied this advantage, but am knocking along somehow.  Never

a night(whether I have gone out or not). but the last several hours are

spent in bed with my books.  All things interest me---the world is so

very good.  Principal studies are, scientific, sociological, and ethical

---these, or course, including biology, economics, psychology, phy-

siology, history, etc. etc. without end.   And I strive, also, to not

neglect literature.

               Am healthy, love exercise, and take little.  Shall pay

the penalty some day.

               There, I can't think of anything else.  I know what data

I have furnished is wretched, but autobiography is not entertaining to

a narrator who is sick of it.  Should you require further information,

just specify, and I shall be pleased to supply it.  Also, I shall be

grateful for the privilege of looking over the biographical note be-

fore it is printed.

                   Very truly yours,

This letter was transcribed from a facsimile of an autobiographical letter written to Houghton Mifflin Company by Jack London in connection with the publication of his first book, The Son of the Wolf. It was included in a "special gift edition" of Sailor on Horseback.

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