July 25

Jack London

Jack London was one of the first American writers to earn a substantial living by writing. By 1900, Jack London was making about $2,500 a year—about $65,000 in today’s dollars.

Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

1897: Call of the Wild
Jack London sails for the Klondike
Adventure seeker Jack London dropped out of the University of California at Berkeley partly because he ran out of money to pay for school, partly to participate in the Klondike Gold Rush—along with hundreds of thousands of others hoping to strike gold.

London’s time in Canada would go on to form the basis for many of his great literary works. But the traveling and the time spent looking for minuscule amounts of gold led to health problems for the writer. London recovered when he returned to California the following year, and began to sell enough stories to magazines and newspapers to support himself.

Novels like White Fang and Call of the Wild, both inspired by his time in the Klondike, would cement London’s reputation as a uniquely American voice of the early 20th century.
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