Jack London was born on Jan. 12, 1876. I’ve always felt drawn to his work and to the Northern Territory he often highlighted.
Exploring the land of his books and short stories helped propel me into the backcountry at a very young age.
Jack London was a fascinating character in his own right. Having spent time growing up around some of his old haunts, I became familiar with his background: amateur boxer, war correspondent covering the Russo-Japanese War, oyster pirate, hobo, gold miner in the Klondike Gold Rush, sailor, journalist and author.
My favorite Jack London short story is also his most well-known: “To Build a Fire.”
Inspired by his experience in the Yukon, it explores wisdom, experience, hubris, arrogance, intellect, reason, self-reliance, perseverance and death against the backdrop of an unforgiving wilderness.
I first read the story in middle school, and it has stayed with me.
There are two versions of the classic tale.
One was written in 1902 and the other in 1908.
The latter is recognized as one of the classic short stories of all time.
To this day, when building a fire in the woods, I never fail to remember Jack London’s lessons — and look up to inspect the boughs above.
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London (1876-1916) was born in San Francisco.
At age 14, “he quit school to escape poverty and gain adventure. He explored San Francisco Bay in his sloop, alternately stealing oysters or working for the government fish patrol,” noted Britannica.
He later taught himself at public libraries, voraciously reading the works of Charles Darwin, among others — and after trying to seek his fortune in the Klondike Gold Rush, he returned to California and chose to embark on the life of a writer.
Among the American novelist and short-story writer’s best-known works are “The Call of the Wild” (1903) and “White Fang” (1906) — which depict “elemental struggles for survival,” as Britannica also said.
During the 20th century, he became one of the most extensively translated American authors.
“Though he wrote passionately about the great questions of life and death and the struggle to survive with dignity and integrity, he also sought peace and quiet inspiration,” says the website of the Jack London State Historical Park in Glen Ellen, California.
“His stories of high adventure were based on his own experiences at sea, in the Yukon Territory, and in the fields and factories of California. His writings appealed to millions worldwide.”
Calling him “strikingly handsome, full of laughter, restless, courageous [and] always eager for adventure,” the same source says that “Jack London was one of the most romantic figures of his time. He ascribed his worldwide literary success largely to hard work — to ‘dig,’ as he put it.”
Between the years 1900 and 1916, London completed over 50 fiction and nonfiction books, hundreds of short stories and numerous articles, the site says.
Fox News Digital staff contributed reporting.